Over 157 million Americans will celebrate the spookiest holiday on the calendar this year, and according to the National Retail Federation, 4.3 million adults plan to dress as witches, 2.4 million will be donning animal costumes, and 1.9 million will disguise themselves as zombies. There’s also the Sexy Pizza Rat, Sexy Green Poo, Sexy Donald Trump, Sexy Minion, Sexy Lobster, and more.
Nowadays, Halloween has become populated with sexy-fied versions of otherwise normal costumes. Sexy costumes have become almost as ingrained in the Halloween tradition as giving out candy, but just about 15 yeas ago, sexy costumes were relatively unheard of.
Mic reports that it all started around 1999. Up to that time, the only genuine sexy costumes were that of the Sexy French Maid and the Sexy Nurse. These were not sexy-fied versions of costumes, but costumes that were just more provocative than your average getup.
“You were going as a ‘sexy’ person, your costume was a sexy person,” Amanda Hallay, an LIM College professor teaching fashion history, told Mic. “But now every costume is sexy.”
Then, Brittany Spears’s “Hit Me Baby One More Time” appeared in an era when pop culture as a whole began to embrace more suggestive fashion choice. People who were wearing miniskirts and babydoll tops suddenly had a new idea for Halloween: go as a Sexy Schoolgirl, like in Brittany’s music video.
Things only got sexier from there. Halloween brings with it a judgment-free culture. Everyone gets a “pass” on the holiday, as the movie Mean Girls from 2004 points out. Manufacturers then began supplying consumers’ demands in the following years.
“Basically for somebody to be ‘sexy’ out there, you had to wear very little clothes,” said Richard Parrott, president of the beauty supply chain store and costume retailer Ricky’s.
“That’s really what it was about. You wore the shortest thing possible, the tightest thing possible, and that’s what was available.”
However, by the end of the decade, the concept had changed. It was no longer enough to just be a sexy version of a character, like a police officer, firefighter, pirate, secretary, or what have you. Online shopping had taken off. In 2002, there was $72 billion business-to-consumer e-commerce sales. In 2010, there was $228 billion.
And with the increase in e-commerce came a plethora of strange new options. Chad Horstman launched Yandy.com, and given his knowledge of search engine optimization, as well as the fact that 70% of the links search users click on are organic, the site naturally rose in popularity. As it did, more and more people embraced its odder lines of costumes, such as Sexy Pizza. Now, Yandy currently has more than 4,000 costume options, which include Sexy Donald Trump, for example.
“We’re just trying to make fun costumes that when people walk into a party [wearing one], they’re gonna get noticed, they’re gonna get attention,” said Horstman, who explained that their costumes are “supposed to be” funny.
“If you didn’t realize that a sexy lobster is funny, come on. If you didn’t realize that a sexy slice of watermelon is funny, if you don’t realize that a sexy hamburger is hilarious, or that a sexy pizza slice is just so funny, like… I don’t know.”
Funny or not, culture has changed. People are more socially aware of issues, such as the hypersexualization and objectification of women, making them less likely to wear the bizarre sexy costumes. In fact, Google searches for “sexy Halloween costumes” costumes peaked in 2008 and have been on the steady decline ever since.
This Halloween is likely to have fewer sexy costumes than last year’s, and next year’s could have even fewer. Perhaps 2015 will be the last time partygoers make the decision to wear such ludicrous outfits as Sexy Green Poo, which HalloweenCostumes.com actually does offer.