WCU Researchers Find Disturbing Patterns with Halloween Costumes for Different Genders

Image of Lauri Hyers, left, and Erin Hipple via Charles Fox, Philadelphia Inquirer.

Sexism is alive when it comes to Halloween costumes, according to West Chester University professor Lauri Hyers and her research partners, writes Susan Snyder for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

When they looked at Halloween costumes, the researchers found that the female versions are often tight and show a lot of skin and cleavage. They also often include high heels or leather boots and, in some cases, fishnet stockings.

Meanwhile, male costumes usually fully cover their bodies, have masks, and emphasize strength and power.

Hyers has studied the issue for around a decade with her students and colleagues. They have analyzed more than 1,600 costumes and concluded that there are definite sexist undertones surrounding Halloween.

“Gender-targeted marketing just reinforces a gender divide and gender stereotypes and limits the potential for children and adults to imagine for themselves,” said Hyers. “It’s stifling creativity.”

According to Hyers and her former graduate student, Erin Hipple, this trend is getting worse and the “sexualization” and “infantilization” of costumes aimed at women is increasing.

Read more about the research in The Philadelphia Inquirer here.

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