The real explanation for sexy Halloween costumes

10/17 Update: Warning–This post is meant to be humorous. Apparently many people have somehow been offended, lol. I pass no judgment on one’s preferred Halloween wear. None at all. Seriously people, chill. 🙂

Also, by “Darwin” I mean “Evolutionary Theory.” “Darwin” just sounded punchier, like we could blame one dude. I don’t know how a few comments thought I meant “Social Darwinism.”

For those who don’t mind my ill-advised/ham-fisted attempts at humor, read on.

Halloween costumeDarwin.

Sure, you can use the economic explanation – these costumes exist because they sell. That however does not get at the root of the issue. Nor does the line, “for one day a year I get to dress like the hooker I always wanted to be, but couldn’t.

Think about it. Why do women dress provocatively? Think like a scientist. Don’t think about values, morals, or dress codes. Just think science.

Women dress provocatively to attract potential mates.

For reproduction.

In fact, research has shown that women dress more provocatively during ovulation – and they may not even realize it.

So what does that have to do with Halloween? Well, despite the powerful force to reproduce, we must not quite be doing enough. Hence, sexy Halloween costumes, and more potential mates attracted. That’s 12 peek times a year that potential mates could be attracted, plus 1… making it that much more likely one’s genes will be carried on.

Don’t even get me started on the pseudo-feminist jargon about how Halloween is a time for women to be independent and stand up for themselves. The irony. They’re not being independent and powerful. They’re just acting in ways that make it statistically that much more likely they will reproduce.

Heaven forbid a woman’s cycle and Halloween fall in the same time frame. Watch out!


About shenpa warrior

"Patience is not learned in safety." View all posts by shenpa warrior

30 responses to “The real explanation for sexy Halloween costumes

  • salth2o

    One question:poligamists.

    Poligamist women want to reproduce more than most women and dress less provactively than a nun.

  • adamf

    Well, considering polygamy (well specifically polygyny, polyandry is rare), not monogamy, is and was the norm in most cultures throughout history, there must be something to it regarding evolution and reproduction.

    What about flashing their ankles? Haven’t you seen some sexy ankle dresses during Halloween? 😉

  • Steve

    The only reason polygamist women dress that way is b/c their overbearing husbands make them! Granted, I doubt they would dress (or look!) like the girl in the post, but I’m sure they’d find a nice happy medium most of society has.

    I for one back up Adam’s claim b/c some of the best hook-ups I’ve ever had and witnessed occured at Halloween parties!

  • Emily

    Explains a lot. Most of my dead-sexiest Halloween costumes have involved fake mustaches.

  • U.S.

    Uh, social Darwinism really isn’t more than a psuedo-science. If your post was remotely correct, you would have been able to provide an explanation why they dress slutty and take birth control.

    If Darwinism explains one action, it has to explain the other — unless of course doing the male of the species until he can’t walk is the best way to perpetuate the species.

  • adamf

    Evolution as pseudo-science. Now there’s a declaration! I guess you’re probably not in the minority on that one. You’ll fit right in with the young earth creationists. 🙂 

    And social Darwinism was Herbert Spencer’s idea (later Darwin adopted it) that if humans are given freedom, the ablest individuals will succeed and the weaker will fail. I’m not sure what you mean then regarding my pseudo-ROFL evolutionary theory of adult Halloween costumes.

    As far as my post being “correct” – haha. That’s what I strive for! Really though, to answer your birth control prompt, We have a drive to reproduce, but don’t actually want the results of that drive on a monthly (or yearly, or whatever) basis. Hence, birth control. I disagree that for a theory to be sound it has to explain everything. In fact, theories that explain everything probably aren’t very sound. 

  • JulieAnn


    Social Darwinism IS a pseudo-science. Evolution is not. They are two different things, as you so aptly stated in your following paragraph. Just to clarify.

    Now, allow me to clarify your post and sum it up: Women wear sexy Halloween Costumes because we want to get f***ed?

    Is THAT your theory? Really? Because our little amygdalas go on over-drive ON HALLOWEEN? Wait, let me use your solid basis for said theory: “we must not quite be doing enough.”


    At the risk of bringing a small slice of enlightenment to you into the mind of a woman, allow me to post MY theroy.

    I think women wear slutty costumes because they CAN.

    If women are so unconsciously led by their primordial brains, then men must also be just as unconsciously led. Correct? (Unless of course you’re saying biology plays a larger role in the unconscious mind of a woman than a man, to which I would reply: uh, prove it with something other than the solid hypothesis of ‘we must not be doing enough.’).

    So why, if Halloween is PRIME TIME to get laid and reproduce, wouldn’t every man be dressed like Ron Jeremy or He-Man for Halloween? How about one of the Old Bible prophets that had, like 122 kids? Hell, how about like ol’ Brigham Young?


    Because the theory is asinine.

    Even “pseudo-feminists” like me don’t believe that Halloween is a time for women to ‘stand up for themselves’ (where in tarnation did you hear that crap, son?)

    Halloween, in my OPINION–in my non-moral, sociological estimation, is a time when we (people) can allow aspects of ourselves to be diplayed safely, away from the typical judgment (you being the exception) of our hyper-hypocritical culture that is so conflicted about it’s own definition and attitudes regarding sexuality that it gives the term ‘mixed messages’ a new level of cynicism.

    Women are the main targets of this mixed messaging; we are told by the media and by our culture that we ought to be sexy. But when we ARE sexy, we are called ‘sluts’. Naturally, we repress that sexual persona so that we can be accepted and condoned by a culture that is too immature (like some people I can think of) to amalgamate a woman in all of her facets; in all of her glory.

    So on Halloween, we go over board, as most people with repressed histories do. We conpensate for the repression perpetrated by the culture by becoming caricatures of sexuality, something allowable within the milieu of Halloween.

    We have given the young women in our society the message that they somehow are not significant on their own; that they need men to validate them. We have robbed them of their self-images and esteem by making the physical ideal of women impossible to reach. We have pushed an inordinate amount of beauty supplies, plastic surgery and products to sell them with promises of a more joyful state of being.

    And YOUR theory, that women wear ‘slutty costumes’ is so they can get laid and reproduce?!

    All I can say is, I found one accurate thing in your blog and it wasn’t in the post, it was in your blog title: “Vapid social commentary.”


  • adamf

    Wow. Again, I don’t know how to respond to that smack-down! 🙂

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I meant this post as more tongue-in-cheek than actual science… based on your aggressive response I guess I wasn’t clear enough about that. Now, you are certainly entitled to your opinion on whether The post was humorous or not. I already knew it was vapid.;)


  • adamf

    I do like your theory though “they do because they can” – while that theory is not based on science it certainly fits into an existential or theological belief in free will. I also agree with a lot of your thoughts about women and society.

    Also, I was not talking about “social Darwinism” – the other commentor brought that up, that’s why I clarified the definition.

  • Alice

    Wow. (I think JulieAnn, that if you get to call Adam “son”, he should get to call you “mom”)

    I don’t think that women wear slutty halloween costumes because they consciously want to reproduce, they just want men to WANT to reproduce with them.

    All people like to be admired, unfortunately we’ve taught girls to seek after physical admiration, and we haven’t done enough to teach boys how to respect women

    One year I was what I called a punk rocker, looking back, I looked like a overly-clothed hooker. As a parent, sometimes I’m amazed at the freedom my own mother gave me, and try to remember to give a little more to my own children.

  • JulieAnn

    Well Alice! Welcome to the party. Shall I call you sister? We can all be one, big incestuous family.

    Maybe Alice speaks from her own experience and not from a true objective perspective.

    People in general, during most of their lives, have the desire to be attractive to the opposite sex. I daresay when that instinct dies, then it’s off to the Croc shoe store and bermuda shorts aisle at WalMart for us.

    Point is, women don’t wear sexy outfits just so they can be admired. It’s a helluva lot more complex than that, even to my prurient mind.

    Sexuality is a source of power. You want to know the truth of that statement? Ask any stripper. There is a huge sense of power one gets from being sexual. Power is one thing that historically women have been denied. Many women feel a sense of power when they unleash that part of themselves that has been denied a voice.

    Most of the women I know have a self-esteems established on their accomplishments, who they are, and their strength as human beings. And they dress damn sexy for Halloween.

    Off to dust my bunnies!


  • Emily

    Girls, girls, you’re all pretty.
    Clearly this topic has struck a nerve, perhaps Adam was un peu naif if he didn’t anticipate that this would cause somebody or other to get her lingerie into a twist, but really it was meant to be funny in the slightly smart-alecky way my brother (yes, he’s really my brother) is so good at. JulieAnn, you sound like a pretty smart kinda gal, but you should find a different tree to bark at. I think the whole ’empowered stripper’ phenomenon is bullsh*t and just reinforces the whole oppressive, sexist, ageist paradigm women are up against in our society. Personally I like Adam’s “scientific” theory better. It’s timely, too, since procreation is being used as a rationale for all kinds of things lately. Good luck with the bunny dusting, lemme know if you need any help with that. 😉

  • JulieAnn

    Hey Emily, being Adam’s sister n’ all, I’ll cut you some slack. I know I’m pretty, so let’s move on briefly and finally.

    I didn’t say strippers were “empowered”, Emily. There is a difference between being empowered and having a feeling of power, however feeble, over others.

    As a former stripper, Em–may I call you Em?– you MUST know the difference, right? OH….you aren’t a former stripper? Then kindly sod off. You don’t know your a** from your elbow on this!

    Strippers are some of the most DISempowered people I know–so are little old men who pretend they can talk to God. SO…what do they do? They exert power OVER others through manipulation, fear or a promise of a private show to compensate for their terrible feelings of powerlessness.

    Adam, if you were going for humor, might I suggest more hyperbole? Perhaps a little more conflation on the stereotypes? That way, rabid people like me won’t come and muck up your blog with unwanted opinions and nasty conflict! I do want to say it was nice visiting you and I wish you and your pursuits well.

    Good luck Adam, and Emily….my dust bunnies are pretty wicked. I don’t think you’d wanna see these bad boys!

    Chowder and peace, friends!

  • adamf

    “More hyperbole”… hmm… I don’t want to go over the top now, lol. I prefer subtle humor, well, attempts at subtle humor. Otherwise I feel like I’m trying too hard. It has to be dry. Like Arrested Development, where you don’t always know if they’re trying to be funny or not, but, of course, they are.

  • Rich

    It looks like JulieAnn is obviously a former stripper who certainly knows her “a** from her elbow” as she so eloquently put it. She herself feels powerless, so she is now trying to manipulate this blog into something it was never intended to be.

    Adam – keep up the excellent blogging.

  • Derek Staffanson

    Adam, if you haven’t read this article from this very fascinating blog, I think you’ll find it interesting. Great serious examination of the modern Halloween costume phenomenon.

  • Alice

    JulieAnn- I agree with you. Women dress provocatively because it gives them a sense of power. That’s the idea I was getting at in my post, I obviously didn’t quite get there.

    I think it’s sad that so many women (and teenage girls- speaking from a recent experience working with teenage girls) think that using their sexuality in that way is the only/best way for them to feel powerful.

    Derek- that’s a great post- thank you for the link.

  • Krystle

    Geeez, buddy, I was gonna give ya the ole one-two, but it looks like you kinda got yours already, huh?

    I would have been nicer about it. 🙂

    Still, though, I do agree with JulieAnn in some respects…and I agree with you in some respects. I think that while you’re correct that it does increase the chance of male attention (and you all are such visual creatures, that’s ridiculously easy to obtain) and ultimately reproduction, and I’m also aware of the research indicating that more is more when it comes ovulation time, I agree with JulieAnn that women also do it because they can. One of the other commenters referred to her as a former stripper, which was…well, that’s neither here nor there. (Some) women will probably continue to use their sexual power until society and the folks in charge (mostly men) start sharing the other sorts of power more.

    So, aside from your observations, Adam, how do you feel about women wearing costumes like this? Are you against it?

    Peace, man! Truly. I enjoy your opinions even though I don’t always agree. I like learnin’ from ya.


  • George

    Geoffrey Miller seems to be the authority in this field of evolution by sexual selection. Have you studied him? Never given this subject any thought before.

    I have been reading about, since we attended a presentaion of Frank Drake’s equation, the Fermi Paradox. Carl Sagan believed, using Drake’s analysis that there must be intelligent life spread throughout the galaxy. Others argue that human beings are very unique because of near insurmountable and complex evolutionary obstacles. Therefore life does not exist elsewhere in the Milky Way. Miller credits sex for it all. I quote from Wiki:

    “The starting point for Miller’s work was Darwin’s theoretical observation that evolution is driven not just by natural selection, but by the process called sexual selection[1]. In support of his views on sexual selection, he has written The mating mind: how sexual choice shaped the evolution of human nature. This revives and extends Darwin’s suggestion that sexual selection through mate choice has been critical in human mental evolution—especially the more “self-expressive” aspects of human behavior, such as art, morality, language, and creativity. Identifying the survival value of these traits has proved elusive, but their adaptive design features do suggest that they evolved through mutual mate-choice by both sexes to advertise intelligence, creativity, moral character and heritable fitness. The supporting evidence includes human mate preferences, courtship behavior, behavior genetics, psychometrics, and life history patterns. The theory makes many testable predictions, and sheds new light on human cognition, motivation, communication, sexuality, and culture.[2]
    Miller believes that our minds evolved not as survival machines, but as courtship machines, and proposes that the human mind’s most impressive abilities are courtship tools that evolved to attract and entertain sexual partners. By switching from a survival-centred to a courtship-centred view of evolution, he attempts to show how we can understand the mysteries of mind. The main competing theories of human mental evolution are (1) selection for generalist foraging ability (i.e., hunting and gathering), as embodied in the work of researchers such as Hillard Kaplan and Kim Hill at the University of New Mexico, and (2) selection for social intelligence, as argued by Andrew Whiten, Robin Dunbar, and Simon Baron-Cohen.”

  • George

    Cosmic questions to ponder… Does this explain, from the work of Miller and Darwin why outrageous Halloween costumes exist? Further, do they exist on other planets, if there is life there?

    A another question to consider are people as nasty and mean sprited in reality as they appear to be on the blogosphere, and what is the correlation between combativeness over a blog post and driving agressively during rush hour?

    So many questions and so little time…

  • adamf

    Thanks Rich. It is nice to know that if I may have lost a commenter, I have gained one. 🙂 Incidentally, JulieAnn told me she wouldn’t be back because I edited out a bunch of sexual references out of one of her comments. That is the first time I have EVER edited anyone’s comments, and hopefully the last.

    Thanks for the link. That is a great read. Sure, women dress up that way because “they can” but being “sexy bumblebee” or “sexy Dorothy” is about as original as a guy being “dead mailman” or “dead football player.” Not that I’m original though… dang. Guess I can’t say much there! (Nor can Jerry Seinfeld, “ghost, hobo, superman.”

    I agree with you and JulieAnn on this as well. Women may get a sense of power, ESPECIALLY in the sense that more men will want to mate with them, and then they can refuse it. What power! lol.

  • adamf


    “and you all are such visual creatures, that’s ridiculously easy to obtain”

    No argument there! It is WAY too easy. Perhaps my post is a call to women to tone it down precisely BECAUSE it is too easy. Men just can’t handle the power of sexy Halloween nurse! 😉

    Re: Former strippers – I thought she was saying she WAS a former stripper.. but I think she just doesn’t want anyone saying anything about anyone else until they have been in their shoes… and after all, all good writers must be former strippers. They need the power. Just ask Diablo Cody…. Okay, that’s only one former stripper-turned writer… um… yeah I was way off on that one.

    If men lose their power to the Grendel’s Mother Style Sexuality from women (now there is a creative costume), then that’s their own dang fault. Perhaps that is the message of Beowulf, well, at least the 3D movie version, ha ha: If you submit to the foxy Halloween librarian, you may end up losing your life.

    “aside from your observations, Adam, how do you feel about women wearing costumes like this? Are you against it?”

    No. They can wear whatever they want. As long as they recognize the possible reasons they may be doing so (including biology, empowerment, feeling attractive, or even just the classic “Because I choose to” like Neo in the last Matrix movie, I’m cool. Just please make sure there is little or no discrepancy between what your goals are, and what your choices are. If there isn’t any, then go for it! This has one caveat… if ANYONE tries to work a “Sexy Pam Beesly from The Office”… I’m totally against that. That kind of costume would only attract the creepy Creeds of the world.

  • adamf


    “Others argue that human beings are very unique because of near insurmountable and complex evolutionary obstacles.”

    I think I side more with Carl Sagan in that there must be more life, or even an infinite amount of other inhabited planets. It only makes sense to me that if the universe is infinite in size (and multiverses, there may be an infinite number of them as well), there are an infinite amount of planets, with an infinite number of chances for evolution to occur. To suggest that we are unique, I think, takes us back to the whole issue of the earth being the center of everything, and how special we are ABOVE everything else, and etc.

    “the human mind’s most impressive abilities are courtship tools that evolved to attract and entertain sexual partners”

    Well there you have it! My theory is correct, lol. These empowered women like JulieAnn should feel good about themselves that they are can so aptly attract and entertain sexual partners. 😉

    “Does this explain, from the work of Miller and Darwin why outrageous Halloween costumes exist?”

    Good question, it may not explain EVERYTHING, but I think (seriously now) it has some contribution.

    We have a sexual behavior system “designed” by evolution to encourage us to mate. Part of that is how we attract potential partners. Some of these costumes attract partners. Therefore, sometimes, whether they want to admit it or not, women are biologically influenced to dress a certain way. On Halloween many of the social mores are stripped away (no pun intended), and they can take it even further. Hence my post. I think that logic is pretty sound!

  • cue


    “They can wear whatever they want. As long as they recognize the possible reasons they may be doing so (including biology, empowerment, feeling attractive, or even just the classic “Because I choose to” like Neo in the last Matrix movie, I’m cool.”

    I wonder if ‘modestly dressed’ women recognize that their choices in attire may very well be influenced by puritan standards imposed on to them by a bullying Patriarch. ;-P

    “Just please make sure there is little or no discrepancy between what your goals are, and what your choices are. If there isn’t any, then go for it!”

    Hmm… is this a desire to control something that you do not understand? Uncertainty and ambivalence seem to be traits common to all people, even those who are adept at introspection. So, I think a discrepancy between a goal and the choices made by an individual are forgivable. Not that a woman would need your validation anyhow, hu-Man.


  • adamf


    Re: “’modestly dressed’ women” – I think most do, and although I think some of them would disagree they were bullied into it, I would agree that many follow those standards without giving it a second thought as to where the standards came from. Obviously we have all kinds of influences, and I who could deny we have been influenced by the past? Imho, dress “standards” are culturally relative, i.e. what is modest and what isn’t. But we can all go to Alice’s blog to debate that as she already kicked that dead horse quite effectively.

    “Hmm… is this a desire to control something you do not understand?”

    Nope! Lol. I’m NOT trying to control THEM. My point was that I hope that they are trying to control themselves in ways that are in accordance with their core values, even if those values may or may not be different from mine. I do that ALL the time in therapy with clients. Of course ambivalence is natural and very common. Of course discrepancy is “forgivable,” even natural. However, the principle is pretty clear to me. What are my core values or what is important to me, how am I living my life in accordance to those ideas or values or beliefs etc., and if there’s some discrepancy there, I will feel some ambivalence. We all deal with this. Then, assuming that we still desire to live according to whatever it is we want our life to be like, we all try to get rid of this discrepancy by resolving the ambivalence in one direction or the other. That’s what I hope for people, that they will be able to make choices that they will later be fine with, that are in accordance with what they really want. If they want to be sexy on Halloween, attract potential mates, etc. etc. then great!

    Ambivalence in these more strictly behavioral choices is a LOT easier to work with than in other areas in life. E.g. exercise or not, quit smoking or not, improve my diet or not, stay up until 3 am every night playing WoW or not, wear said costumes for Halloween or not. Each of those choices may be complex, I realize, but they are behavioral choices and I believe that they can all be resolved towards the one direction or another that is MORE in accordance with what one really wants out of life. If there is no direction one really wants, or no core values at work there, then there will be no ambivalence to resolve and no problem!

    Now, in other areas it may be more difficult, and this model for recognizing discrepancy and resolving ambivalence is much more difficult to apply… perhaps even not very useful.

  • adamf

    I found this amusing – one of the recent searches that landed someone on my blog was “slutty halloween costume theories” … 😀

  • nodule

    To heck with the theories… All I know is that girl in the photo is exceptionally hot…and a thousand times sexier than Paris Hilton (as her costume name-tag suggests). Wonder where she’ll be next Halloween…

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