(RNN) - Halloween is full of scary trends - haunted houses and hay rides, fright furnaces, and Freddie Kreuger movies, but for me, the scariest tread of all rears its ugly, scantily-clad head starting in the costume aisle of my local retail or party establishment.
As a woman, I have the option of being almost anything I want to be for this annual excuse to binge on chocolate and Skittles - as long as it's short, skimpy and shows plenty of leg ... and, well, everything else.
Girls, let's face it. It's flat out hard to cover up at Halloween.
"Sexy" astronaut, firefighter, police officer, mermaid, pirate, sailor, army babe, jail bird, Marie Antoinette (you provide your own head), even witch - it's all there for your skin-showing perusal.
Funny, growing up, I don't remember witches - with their warts, green faces and horribly bland wardrobe and pointy shoes - ever being all that sexy. Even the one beautiful witch - Glinda, the good witch in the Wizard of Oz - covered up.
But if it's not "sexy" - say, construction worker, for instance - the costume designers will make it "sexy" (read: revealing, trashy, insert other adjective here), stripping away material here, lowering a neckline there, whatever it takes to make sure you pay $60 to $90 for as little material as possible.
Outside of Halloween, only Abercrombie and Fitch could convince otherwise reasonable, cash-strapped Americans to pay so much money for so little cloth. Oh, by the way, for an outfit you may not even wear more than once.
Even Finding Nemo has gone "sexy," though presumably for the sake of not getting sued, the company selling the costume is billing it as an "adult coral clownfish Ne-moh."
I've yet to run across sexy Judy Jetson, Strawberry Shortcake or Wilma Flintstone (I guess she's not considered as sexy as Betty), but I'm sure I've just overlooked them.
Other options I have found include "naughty raccoon," "sensual soldier," "cowgirl cutie," "flirty bumble bee" and "seductive serving wench" (no really, I wish I was making this up).
I've yet to figure out why raccoons need to be naughty or sexy. OK, maybe knocking over trash cans and daily raiding my cat's outdoor food dish qualifies them as naughty. But sexy?
Perhaps one of the most absurd costumes I stumbled upon was the sexy watermelon, with a bite ever so strategically taken out of the side of the towel-sized cover up.
I don't have to tell you that you'll never find a "vixen Viking" or "sexy border patrol agent" costume for guys. (Again, actual costumes).
And when I pitched my story idea to my fellow co-workers, the guys all unanimously said, "No guy would ever volunteer for that story."
But when the Lady Gaga costumes are considered the most modest options we have, we women are in trouble.
Call me old fashioned (you wouldn't be in the first), but in our Jersey Shore "Show everything and post it on Facebook" culture, I've always been a firm believer that you can show more by showing less - more class, more substance, more respect for yourself and others.
Subtlety is hot. Really.
To clarify, I'm not 8 years old, married or a mom. I am a young adult who is single and childless - think the "Carrie Bradshaw/Friends" demographic, minus the fabulous New York apartment and Manolo Blahnik's on a freelancers (or coffee waitress') salary.
Meaning I essentially have no one to set an example for and no one to answer to - except a boss and my scale, should I decide to skip work and/or binge on pizza for a month straight.
But I empathize with how hard it must be for moms to find appropriate costumes not just for their kids, but for themselves - regardless of whether they have daughters to set an example for about how to dress in a way that demonstrates respect for themselves, or sons, to set an example for how women should be regarded.
And whether you have kids or not, little eyes are watching. They're absorbing the subtle and not-so-subtle messages we send by how women dress and how the person men choose to spend their time with dresses.
With this knowledge, is it any wonder there are costumes in the kids' aisle like "Major Flirt," an army costume with a mini skirt - knee high boots sold separately?
How about the midriff-baring teen pop star outfit? Or the fishnet stocking-clad French maid costume - both for kids?
Maybe those eyes watching aren't so little. Maybe they're teenagers or college students insecure about their bodies and trying to find their way through this confusing journey called life with their self esteem intact.
With costumes like the "teen girls sassy sailor" option, which, with its thigh-baring mini skirt, promises to make "you every teen seaman's favorite," [Editorial comment: uhh, favorite what?] who could blame them if they felt they didn't quite measure up?
If adults want to dress in scantily-clad costumes, that's their right. I find it demeaning, but, hey, that's America - what I find demeaning is your right to find cute. It's how shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians stay on the air.
But ladies, I think it's time we showed more respect for ourselves - if not for us, for the generation of girls who come behind us.
We can't demand respect from others - guys, our kids, the world in general - if we don't bother to show it to ourselves.
Discretion goes a long way, and no one should be forced settle for the at-home remedy of the frumpy, lumpy do-it-yourself jack-o-lantern due to a lack of modest options at the costume store.
Unless you live in Miami, no one really wants to wear barely-there skirts and tops a day before November anyway.
Dress up as sexy nurse in 40 degree weather, expect to be treated by an actual nurse when you come down with walking pneumonia.
So, for Halloween, I'm going to pay homage to someone who truly knew a thing or two about what it means to be beautiful, Audrey Hepburn, who famously said :
"The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It's the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, and the beauty of a woman only grows with passing years."
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