Halloween has always been my favorite holiday, despite the fact that shopping for a plus size Halloween costume is a legitimate nightmare. Some people spend the year counting down the days until Christmas, but I’ve always been the type of person to count down the days until Oct. 31. As a horror author, there’s nothing I like more than a good scare, and Halloween gives me a chance to include the people I love in something I’m so passionate about. But for some people, Halloween can be a yearly frustration and can feel — at best — exclusionary.
Dressing up is a staple of the holiday, no doubt. An original or clever costume can leave you feeling proud, and for some people, it’s the one night of the year they can let loose or show off. A costume can make you feel beautiful, scary, powerful… or — thanks to some manufacturers — ashamed of your body. Being plus size and looking for a costume only adds to that. Even though there are some really cool costume options for plus size women out there, the slew of offensive costumes and limited choices for larger women can make outfit shopping seem impossible.
There are six things in particular that can make costume shopping as a plus size woman so frustrating — these are them.
1. There Are Much Fewer Options
Shopping for a Halloween costume can be incredibly fun... when you’re actually able to find one, that is. While some retailers do sell plus size costumes, they’re few and far between. Although it can be more fun to create an original costume instead of buying something pre-packaged, sometimes you just don’t feel like sewing a Victorian dress by hand because Halloween Depot doesn’t sell one in your size. Just observe the shop above: 261 plus size costumes is obviously awesome (and pretty rare), but compared to 1207 straight size ones? That's about 79 percent less.
Plus, depending on what you’re going as for Halloween, crafting your own costume can be costly and time consuming. I'm not saying that all costumes need to be plus size. It's just that... OK, fine, I'm saying it: Costume designers need to make more sizes available to more women. It’s really not that complicated.
2. Many Retailers Don’t Sell Plus Size Costumes In Store
So, the good news is you’ve finally found a company that sells plus size costumes. The bad news? It only sells them online. While it may not sound like a big deal, not being able to try your costume on in store can be both frustrating and expensive.
People aren’t built the same way, and while you may be able to guess your size according to the measurement charts on the company’s website, it doesn’t mean the costume is going to fit you well or look good. This can mean individuals looking to buy a costume can spend a small fortune on shipping fees when they need to keep buying or returning their ensemble.
3. Favoritism And Fat Shaming Are Evident In Costume Selections
My best friend and I went costume shopping recently, and we happened to find a retailer that not only sold plus size costumes, but offered a selection of them in store. However, as we walked through the rows of outfits, it was pretty obvious that even when certain retailers were selling costumes in store, there was a discrepancy between the standard size costumes and the plus size ones.
Firstly, the straight size costumes tended to show more skin. Way more skin. Although the hyper-sexualization of women during Halloween by costume manufacturers is arguably upsetting, problematic, and needs to be addressed, there’s also something to be said about these same manufacturers making modest costumes for plus size women. They’re blatantly suggesting that thin women should be seen and sexualized, while plus size women should cover up. This is troubling, to say the absolute least. While women shouldn’t be forced to wear revealing costumes should they not want to, they also shouldn’t be forced to cover up should they not want to.
4. The Insulting Costumes
Costume companies are famous for cultural appropriation during Halloween, but did you know that they also often capitalize on costumes that body shame women? While some costumes are designed to shame fat women (which include Halloween favorites like “Fat Ballerina,” “Fat Stripper,” and the ever offensive “Fat Hawaiian Girl” costumes), some of them are also designed to poke fun at eating disorders.
I've seen a “Freshman 15” costume — which comes with a beer gut sorority tank top, blonde wig, and red Solo cup — that makes fun of the weight people supposedly gain during their freshman year at university. There’s also the "Anna Rexia" costume that had the Internet in an uproar when it came out in 2013, which featured a thin girl in a mini skeleton dress with a measuring tape wrapped around her midsection.
Not only are the manufacturers encouraging body shaming, but some of the retailers are just as bad. Walmart was slammed last October when its plus size costumes were temporarily labeled "Fat Girl Costumes" on its website.
5. The “Why Not Go As Fat..." Thing
Stop. Why does a Halloween costume need a “fat” qualifier? If you want to go as Jesse Pinkman and you’re plus size, it doesn’t have to mean you’re going as “Fat Jesse Pinkman.” These size attributions to costumes can make women who don't necessarily feel comfortable with the word "fat" (or the way some people use it) feel uncomfortable about themselves — like they can't simply partake in Halloween fun without having to discuss their size.
6. Fear Of Looking Like A Parody On Halloween
As fun as Halloween is, it can be a source of anxiety for plus size individuals. Although finding a costume is frustrating, deciding what to be can seem even more impossible and disheartening. People can be mean, and there’s nothing more upsetting than dressing up, feeling good about yourself, and being made fun of because of your size.
Halloween’s supposed to be a treat, though, and being more mindful of our words (and more inclusive with costume choices) can make all the difference this October.