Ever since I was in eighth grade, I told myself that during my freshmen year of college I would finally wear the costume of my dreams. I was an emo kid back in the day, and fell in love with the band Blink-182. Had all their albums, saw them live, had signed merch, and even met one of the band members. I’d always wanted to dress up as the girl on one of their hit albums, Enema of the State. But the model was a literal porn star, and the cheap nurse costume she wore wasn’t exactly age appropriate, so I promised myself that freshman year of college I’d let myself go for it.
And now I’m finally in college, and it’s Halloween season. The time finally came, and all month I’ve been prepping for this costume: looking for the perfect nurse outfit, getting the makeup look down, even hand-making the patch on her dress. I was pumped. Then the Friday before Halloween I put it all on and did my makeup and hair just right, which took a total of over two hours. I looked perfect, just like the album cover. After a quick photoshoot, I posted my look on twitter next to the picture of the album cover, and Blink-182 immediately retweeted it, and the post blew up. Suddenly I had hundreds of retweets and thousands of favorites. I went out to the club feeling confident and proud.
Little did I know wearing a sexually liberating costume would somehow be seen as an invitation for everyone to just complete disrespect everything about me, from my body to my sexuality to my taste.
Of course on my way to the club guys were just completely taken aback by my chest. One pedicab driver asked if I needed a ride, then ogled at my tits and said “Uhhh… and you’re really pretty… by the way,” but I thought all of that was just kind of funny and expected. I got a kick out of it. I’m a hot chick in a ridiculous costume that barely even counts as clothes at this point.
Then I looked back on my twitter. I guess when something on the internet gets popular, people expect their offensive comments go unnoticed. To my surprise, all of my haters were women, which made me really sad. They were slut-shaming me, telling me I looked like a drug addict or a cheap knock-off. Of course being the confident feminist I am, I replied with witty remarks saying I’m so sorry they’re jealous I’m hot and confident. But it makes me really frustrated that people assume because someone is on the internet, they can bully that person. And the fact that it was all women just made me sad that there are so many people who hold such internalized misogyny.
But it wasn’t just people online who thought my costume was an open invitation to disrespect me. One guy outside the club asked if I REALLY, ACTUALLY listened to Blink-182, or if I was just wearing the costume for attention. Yes, random stranger, I spent years preparing this costume, spending plenty of time and money, just to suck some emo dick. You’re a genius. Just because a woman is wearing a revealing costume, does not mean she is looking for attention from men, believe it or not.
Then I get into the club–keep in mind it’s a gay bar–so I’m clearly not trying to get with any guys here. I’m dancing, having a good time with some friends, and suddenly there’s someone on my ass. I can’t even see his face, but he’s big and towering over me. He’s grabbing my neck and panting in my ear. I don’t even know his name, or what he looks like. But I let it happen for a bit, just dance a bit. Then he turns me around and tries to make out with me. I say no, shake my head, so he turns me around again. He’s grabbing not only my ass, but my crotch at this point. My dress has rode up past my butt. I’m clearly uncomfortable. He turns me around again to try and make out and I tell him to stop. He’s mad and starts to try and argue with me. I tell him no and begin to leave the dance floor. But this guy clearly doesn’t have any respect for me or my body, so he grabs my asscheeks as I’m walking away, after I made it very clear I don’t want him touching me.
It doesn’t matter what I’m wearing. It doesn’t matter if I’m a “slut” who has tons of sex or not. It doesn’t matter the holiday. It doesn’t matter my age. It doesn’t matter. MY BODY IS NOT AN INVITATION. MY OUTFIT IS NOT AN INVITATION. MY COSTUME IS NOT AN INVITATION. You are not allowed to be a jerk to me online because of my appearance. You are not allowed to accuse me of being a fake because of my appearance. You are not allowed to grope me and objectify me because of my appearance.
Have a fun Halloween weekend, and remember, no matter what you wear, you deserve to feel safe, have fun, and get respect.
University of Michigan
LSA Residential College