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Company Does Something Right, Cancels Sexy Handmaid’s Tale Costume

Really, why was this even a thing in the first place?

June/Offred Handmaid's Tale Hulu

The Internet has successfully shamed adult costume company Yandy into taking down their sexy Handmaid’s costume. That’s right, a sexy Handmaid, and not in the Bojack Horseman satirical sense—in the “we’re going to shame you on every social media platform known to humanity” sense. The costume company released the following statement:

“Yandy always has stood, and will continue to stand, at the forefront of encouraging our customers to ‘Own Your Sexy’. We support our customers being comfortable in their skin, regardless of who they are or what they choose to wear. Our corporate ideology is rooted in female empowerment, and gender empowerment overall. Over the last few hours, it has become obvious that our ‘Yandy Brave Red Maiden Costume’ is being seen as a symbol of women’s oppression, rather than an expression of women’s empowerment. This is unfortunate, as it was not our intention on any level. Our initial inspiration to create the piece was through witnessing its use in recent months as a powerful protest image. Given the sincere, heartfelt response, supported by numerous personal stories we’ve received, we are removing the costume from our site.”

Well, that certainly is an apology of some sort. Much like how the Handmaid’s Tale wines were discontinued after about five hours, it didn’t take too long before the backlash made whoever designed that costume rethink their life and choices, but while we have a captive audience, let’s unwrap this apology a little, because there are a few layers here.

First off, when I talk about shaming people for this costume, I am not talking about women who choose to wear sexy Halloween costumes. Empowerment comes in many forms of expression, so if you want to strut your stuff on Halloween, then go ahead! Do it every day of the year, but there’s a difference between empowering and offensive. Much like how having a culturally appropriative costume is deeply offensive, taking an image of women’s oppression that is used in protests and turning into … whatever this is … is not really cool.

The fact that they drew the inspiration from women using the cape and bonnet to protest legislation that would take reproductive rights away is also deeply messed up. It’s bad enough to imagine a sexy costume for characters who are forced to live in sexual servitude, but to take an image women are using as a form of protest and turn it into this is just a little beyond words. It shows a disrespect to these women and what they’re fighting for.

In the article talking about the costume being discontinued, Entertainment Weekly made reference to tweets that defended the costume as being “subversive” and even implied it was some kind of statement on the way women are asked, “What were you wearing?” following assaults. I have to strongly disagree. There is nothing subversive about the outfit, especially not when it is a real symbol of protest. It has nothing to do with that question and everything to do with a seriously misguided cash grab based on a show about sexual slavery.

As I said in the initial article on this, we’ll still probably see sexy Handmaids during Halloween. It’s the way the world works. However, it’s still hard to find them to be clever satire or a commentary on reclaiming your identity, and that’s the problem with the costume as a whole. So maybe avoid that this year, okay?

(via Entertainment Weekly; image: George Kraychyk/Hulu)

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Kate (they/them) says sorry a lot for someone who is not sorry about the amount of strongly held opinions they have. Raised on a steady diet of The West Wing and classic film, they are now a cosplayer who will fight you over issues of inclusion in media while also writing coffee shop AU fanfic for their favorite rare pairs.