Every year, I encounter this issue. Every year, I heave a giant sigh and perform the biggest eyeroll known to man. And every year it crops up again. And again. And again.
Why is this still a thing?
My fiancé and I were invited to a murder mystery night for a family member’s birthday. Because the event took place close to Halloween, our host had the idea of having each family group show up dressed as the character they had been assigned. We pulled the computer nerd.
Being giant nerds already, we laughed and asked, “Do we just show up in regular clothes then?” We all had a chuckle about it, and we decided to go Revenge of the Nerds style: high pants, suspenders, thick glasses. Pretty straightforward.
However, the day of I decided to do a quick search for nerd costumes, just to see if anyone had any fun accessory ideas that hadn’t crossed our minds.
I was pretty sorry I did.
The results that had women in the photos were either children, or wearing revealing costumes labelled things like Naughty Nerd and Private School Sweetie. One costume even had the deadly combo of being labelled a nerd costume, and had the model in the sexy schoolgirl ensemble with a tight shirt that read “I HEART NERDS.” I was pretty surprised to find the equivalent of the computer engineer Barbie debacle in a costume for actual women.
Guys, I’m just…..tired.
The fact that a costume company can make a Naughty Nerd costume is not the issue. They can make whatever kind of costumes that they want. My question is, why does it HAVE to be sexy? Women going out to buy a sexy costume? More power to them. But say I loved the male version of the costume (which I did). I’m kind of tiny, and guy sizes don’t always fit me well. So, to get the look that I want, I would need to go to multiple stores to find each component of the outfit, when I could have just ordered the costume and been done with it. The problem is, they don’t offer that option.
If we’re looking at this through a feminist lens (which is impossible not to do in this case), let’s make this about equality and not about me having to explain why a woman with a calculator working in a lab in knee highs and a crop top is degrading. Would the nerd costume be marketed to men as a “sexy nerd” ever? Would the same company market an outfit for “Nerdy Beef Cake” by posing an attractive, muscular guy all oiled up, wearing glasses, suspenders, and a bow tie…but no shirt?
The answer is no, and most people would find the suggestion preposterous. So why isn’t it equally ridiculous to market the women’s version as perpetually sexy?
We are already conditioned to consider our appearance before heading out the door on so many days of the year – haven’t we earned the right to just go as a nerd and not a naughty schoolgirl? Or Gumby and not sexy Gumby? Or pizza and not sexy pizza?
Yes, those are all real costumes that I found.
At least we’re talking about it, and it seems a little less now than in past years, but I’m still looking forward to a Halloween where I don’t have to wade through sexualized options before I find a costume.