As problematic as purveryor of sexy Halloween costumes Yandy can be, its dedication to its craft is strangely inspirational. I have the homemade sexy Guy Fieri costume to prove it.
Yes, Yandy has gone too far. Many times. The retailer made headlines in 2018 with its “Sexy Handmaid” costume inspired by the enslaved women subjected to repeated rape and forced to bear their rapists’ children in dystopian novel-cum-TV show The Handmaid’s Tale. The white bonnets and red cloaks worn by the handmaids in the show became a symbol of fighting for reproductive rights in a post-Trump world, and women have dressed up as handmaids to protest state restrictions to abortion access. Yandy’s costume received such intense backlash that the company eventually pulled it before Halloween. It also produced a sexy “College Scandal” costume consisting of a two-piece orange jumpsuit with “Mom of the Year” printed across the bust in a nod to the college admissions scandal. It ruffled feathers back in 2012 with its sexy Big Bird costume.
The missteps haven’t deterred it from turning the most oddly specific concepts into sexy costumes, though, and they can be hilarious. Yandy is to Halloween costumes as vlogger Trisha Paytas is to YouTube; it’s brash, risqué, and has an impressive tendency to offend nearly every culture and identity known to humanity. And like a devastating natural disaster or a doomscroll through the political news first thing in the morning, it’s nearly impossible to look away.
The company at least draws the line at sexy COVID-themed costumes. Its vice president of merchandising, Pilar Quintana-Williams, told Business Insider that there is “nothing sexy” about the pandemic, but that didn’t stop Yandy from releasing some glorified lingerie with a touch of 2020.
This year’s collection includes sexy hand sanitizer, sexy quarantine banana bread, a sexy TikTok ban (dubbed the “Sexy Banned App” to avoid copyright issues), and my personal favorite, the sexy mail-in ballot. As Washington Post reporter Tonya Riley tweeted on Friday, even election security can be sexy.
I love oddly specific Halloween costumes, and adore them even more if they’re made sexy. I thrive on blending a cursed concept with fishnets and a sheer top; for past Halloweens, I’ve dressed up as Sexy Guy Fieri and Sexy No Face from Spirited Away. Taking an otherwise innocuous costume idea, whether it’s a meme or a household object, and sexualizing it for Halloween is an art form. It involves taking something inherently unsexy and undesirable and turning it into an outfit that would deeply confuse your standard heterosexual man.
When it comes to my annual Halloween costume extravaganza, I turn to the wise words of the 2004 cultural touchstone Mean Girls.
“In the real world, Halloween is when kids dress up and beg for candy,” the movie’s narrator, Cady Heron, says. “But in girl world, Halloween is the one time of a year a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girl can say anything about it.”
The most hardcore girls, Cady explains, just wear lingerie and some form of animal ears. Even bolder girls can turn the most cursed idea into a sexy outfit that’s part nightmare, part fantasy.
I can easily argue that a sexy deep cut of a Halloween costume is feminism as its most evolved; by objectifying myself with lingerie but donning a bleach blonde goatee and horrendous bowling shirt like Guy Fieri’s, I’m simultaneously inviting and rejecting the male gaze. On the other hand? Frankly, I enjoy looking like a hot, demonic creature from the most nightmarish strip club imaginable.
Which is precisely why I admire Yandy’s hustle. There is, of course, a line when it comes to cursed sexy Halloween costumes — nobody’s culture, religion, sexual orientation, or gender expression should be mocked as a costume. Yandy itself is guilty of culturally appropriating cultural garb as cheap Halloween costumes, and has justifiably received criticism for sexy costumes “inspired” by Native American culture.
But otherwise inoffensive household objects are another story. As much as the internet loves to drag sexy hand sanitizers and sexy mail-in ballots, it does add some levity to an otherwise shitty year.
No matter how dark this timeline gets, at least we know that Yandy will churn out a corresponding sexy costume to go with it. There’s weird comfort in that.