Spooked By Halloween Costumes

Kaitlin Mahar

The Halloween season is nearly upon us and, with the diabetes-inducing explosion of candy and the wannabe-frightening decorations, comes the quest for the perfect costume. However, a friend of mine recently called my attention to something that truly is fearsome: “sexy” Disney character costumes. While the thought of an adult who clearly would have to have standards as low as her BMI to legitimately dress up as a “Sassy Ursula the Sea Witch” can be considered truly terrifying, the message behind the costume is pretty scary too.

The costume in question features the eight-legged villainess, Ursula, from Disney’s 1989 film The Little Mermaid. The point of Ursula’s character was not only to be evil, but also was to have a larger-than-life personality to complement her larger-than-life…ahem… tentacles. However, compared to the actual, clearly plus-sized character, the costume portrays Ursula in an extremely sexualized and slenderized manner.

But here’s the real kicker: the costume does not even come in plus sizes. Assuming that Disney’s target is young adults and teenage girls, what kind of a message is Disney sending here regarding voluptuous women?

We all know that being overweight is an issue in the United States, particularly in the case of young people. According to the American Heart Association, 23.5 million children ages 20 and under are overweight or obese, and 154.7 million American adults ages 20 and up are overweight or obese.

Despite this being such a common body type, very rarely is it depicted in the media, and when it is, characters that are overweight have few redeeming qualities. Women of all ages are bombarded with negative associations with this body type and are led to believe that it is uncommon and unnatural, which is just not true. Nevertheless, this way of thinking and the pressures that stem from it cause girls to develop eating disorders and poor body images at a young age, and this costume does nothing but contribute to the problem.

It’s bad enough that Disney depicts yet another villain as being overweight, thus giving younger viewers a negative association with that body type, but then adding insult to injury by slimming down a character who is known for being curvaceous (and not even providing any sizes for women who, physically, would actually look like the character in question) is horrendous. And certainly, Ursula herself would probably not be too happy with how she is being portrayed by those “poor unfortunate souls.”