As Halloween approaches, a familiar parade of women’s costumes appears in advertisements: Sexy nurse. Sexy cat. Sexy witch. While costumes designed for men lean toward the powerful, the humorous, or the horrific, the sexualization of women’s Halloween costumes is so entrenched that the line between irony and sex appeal may be blurred at this point. Sexy cauliflower pizza? Sexy mail-in ballot? Although opinion pieces bemoaning (or mocking) this trend appear each year, a systematic analysis of Halloween costumes had not yet been conducted. New research out of Oregon State University fills this gap, examining just how far this gendered trend in Halloween costumes goes. After analyzing over a thousand costume ads from four major online retailers, the authors concluded that the gender gap in the sexualization of Halloween costumes doesn’t just show up in costumes designed for adults; sexualized costumes and models regularly appeared in ads showing costumes for young girls and teenage girls.
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