A “se.xy” handmaiden’s Halloween outfit inspired by Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel and now TV show The Handmaid’s Tale could have been yours for a red hot second. The halloween costume – sold by United states lingerie company Yandy – was declared “offensive” by the internet. Obviously.
Yandy duly removed the Halloween Costumes, saying: “Over the very last couple of hours, it has become obvious which our ‘Yandy Brave Red Maiden Costume’ has been viewed as a symbol of women’s oppression, rather than an expression of women’s empowerment.” Within the true spirit of Halloween, eliminating the costume from sale had been a misstep. The costume casts among the spookiest images easy for modern women. The spectre of any handmaiden is truly haunting, more so than a ghoul or ghost or zombie.
For all those new to Atwood’s nightmarish world, a handmaiden is a woman who may have an intact reproductive system in an era of increasing infertility. Handmaidens have to carry the offspring from the ruling class. They wear distinctive red dresses and white bonnets that obscure their faces.
The handmaidens are women that are valued just for their reproductive function, they have got no autonomy, and they are essentially raped each time these are assigned to bear a child. In Atwood’s dystopia, women generally aren’t able to read or write and therefore are stuck in domestic roles. As Yandy indicates within their apology, handmaiden’s costumes (albeit canonical, non-s.exy versions) happen to be donned all over the world by protesters demanding greater rights for women. The costumes were utilized both in Ireland and Argentina to campaign for abortion rights, they were used in Britain to protest Donald Trump’s state visit, and they’ve been used around the US to protest a number of bills, such as funding cuts to reproductive health centres. The thing is to draw in a parallel involving the way women are silenced in dystopian fiction and exactly how women in today’s political climate feel silenced on matters relating to their very own bodies. At some level, the dystopia is here now.
The Adult Halloween Costumes takes this iconic handmaiden image and propels it in to the absurd. It shortens and tightens the figureless red robe and adds fishnet stockings and extremely high heels. Not only does it connote an (very real) world where ladies have no say over their reproductive health, but it additionally brings to the fore the veracity that women are overtly se.xualised.
It’s not hard to view why so many individuals wrote into Yandy proclaiming that it had been offensive, but surely there’s also something darkly humorous regarding it too. It’s bizarre that somehow the realm of retail will be able to spin a story about oknqdh and misogyny into an empowering garment. The initial item description read: “An upsetting dystopian future has emerged where women will no longer have a say. However, we say be bold and speak your brain within this exclusive Brave Red Maiden costume.” The irony astounds.
Beyond the laughter, whether they intended to or not, Yandy sold an ideal Adult Halloween Costumes. It mixes the puritanical reproductive coercion in the Handmaid’s Tale with all the objectification and commercialisation of female bodies. It displays a dystopian reality that could be in our future, and may even describe our present. It’s a truly scary approach to observe Halloween.