Costumes and consent at Halloween

Are people paying more attention to our costumes than our words?

We all know that classic quote from Mean Girls: “Halloween is the one night a year where a girl can dress like a total sl*t and no other girls can say anything about it”, but are girls actually being endangered by this Halloween trope?

The problem, of course, is not the way that girls dress for Halloween. It’s the way the term “sl*t” is used to describe any girl wearing a “sexy” costume reinforcing the notion that a person’s outfit is a sign of consent. There is a large assumption that if you’re dressed in what is deemed as a “sexy” costume, you must want sex.

Halloween is like any other night of the year, the rules of consent still apply and the clothes a person is wearing, do not influence this.

On Instagram, a post by SupportRCC, the account for CHC Rape Crisis Centre, has been shared across platforms. It said: “However you dress, wherever you go, yes means yes & no means no. Costumes are not consent.”


As women, we’re told that what we wear is important and the less we wear, the more we are “supposedly, asking for it”.  It is clear that for many people, this is even more of a concern at Halloween. Some girls will fear that if anything happens to them on a Halloween night out, they are to some extent responsible, because their costume was too revealing – this is in no way true.

Halloween should be a fun time of year. It shouldn’t be a time when women are worrying about their personal safety just by getting involved in the festivities. A girl should not fear being harassed or assaulted when she gets dressed up for a spooky night out.

For any woman reading this, worrying their Halloween costume is too revealing, wear it and enjoy yourselves! Your clothing doesn’t define you and it never will.

If you have experienced any of the issues discussed in this article, please contact the Universities support services below:

Report and Support @ UoS

Report and Support @ Hallam

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