While Halloween brings plenty of “sexy” variations to costumes, it appears that a costume based on a show centered around the oppression of women is a bridge too far. The “Handmaid’s Tale” style costume was being sold by the online retailer Yandy and modeled after the robes women on the hit television are put into when they are forced into surrogacy, according to reports from USA Today. Retailing for $65, the costume includes a red cape, mini dress, and white bonnet.
A description on Yandy’s website describes the costume, saying, “An upsetting dystopian future has emerged where women no longer have a say. However, we say be bold and speak your mind in this exclusive Brave Red Maiden costume.”
Almost immediately after being put on the website, the costume attracted outrage on social media. YouTube personality Kim Horcher summed up the situation when she tweeted, “Did you love The Handmaids tale for its dystopian themes about a degraded future society where women no longer have any sort of rights or autonomy, holding up a mirror to our own reality? Cool, well, here’s a sexy version for Halloween.”
Yandy quickly responded to the growing backlash by removing the costume from its website. The company that specializes in “sexy” costumes also released a statement apologizing for the error.
I’m dressing up as existential despair this Halloween pic.twitter.com/fMyuNuuU1g
— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) September 21, 2018
“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,” said the statement from Yandy. “This is unfortunate, as it was not our intention on any level. Given the sincere, heartfelt response, supported by numerous personal stories we’ve received, we are removing the costume from our site.”
The red cloak from the television show has become an iconic feminist symbol. Since the show premiered, seeing the cloak at a protest has become a common sight, recently appearing during a protest against the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, according to reports from Huffington Post.
Yandy’s statement reveals that it was the use of these cloaks at protests was actually an influence on them choosing to create the costume.
“Our initial inspiration to create the piece was through witnessing its use in recent months as a powerful protest image,” said Yandy. “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.”