A “se.xy” handmaiden’s Halloween costume inspired by Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel and now TV show The Handmaid’s Tale might have been yours for a red hot second. The costume – sold by United states lingerie company Yandy – was declared “offensive” by the internet. Needless to say.
Yandy duly removed the Sexy Halloween Costumes For Women, saying: “Over the final couple of hours, it is now obvious that our ‘Yandy Brave Red Maiden Costume’ has been seen as a symbol of women’s oppression, rather than an expression of women’s empowerment.” In the true spirit of Halloween, eliminating the costume from sale had been a misstep. The costume casts among the spookiest images easy for modern women. The spectre of any handmaiden is definitely haunting, more so than a ghoul or ghost or zombie.
For anyone new to Atwood’s nightmarish world, a handmaiden is really a woman that has an intact reproductive system in an era of growing infertility. Handmaidens have to carry the offspring in the ruling class. They wear distinctive red dresses and white bonnets that obscure their faces.
The handmaidens are women who are valued simply for their reproductive function, they have got no autonomy, and are essentially raped each time these are assigned to bear a kid. In Atwood’s dystopia, women generally aren’t allowed to read or write and are stuck in domestic roles. As Yandy indicates inside their apology, handmaiden’s costumes (albeit canonical, non-s.exy versions) have been donned around the world by protesters demanding greater rights for females. The costumes were utilised in both Ireland and Argentina to campaign for abortion rights, these were found in Britain to protest Donald Trump’s state visit, and they’ve been used round the US to protest numerous bills, including funding cuts to reproductive health centres. The thing is to attract a parallel between the way women are silenced in dystopian fiction and how women in today’s political climate feel silenced on matters in relation to their own bodies. To some degree, the dystopia is here now.
The Halloween Costumes takes this iconic handmaiden image and propels it into the absurd. It shortens and tightens the figureless red robe and adds fishnet stockings and very high heels. Furthermore it connote an (very real) world where women have no say over their reproductive health, but it additionally brings to the fore the truth that ladies are overtly se.xualised.
It’s not hard to find out why so many individuals wrote into Yandy stating that it had been offensive, but surely there’s also something darkly humorous about this too. It’s bizarre that somehow the world of retail is able to spin a narrative about oknqdh and misogyny into an empowering garment. The first item description read: “An upsetting dystopian future has emerged where women will no longer use a say. However, we say be bold and speak your thoughts in this exclusive Brave Red Maiden costume.” The irony astounds.
Beyond the laughter, if they designed to or otherwise not, Yandy sold the ideal Halloween Costumes. It mixes the puritanical reproductive coercion of The Handmaid’s Tale using the objectification and commercialisation of female bodies. It displays a dystopian reality that could be in our future, and might describe our present. It’s a really scary method to observe Halloween.