What the Halloween Costume Industry Could Learn from Comic Con

This weekend while in New York celebrating the Brave Girls Alliance Take Back Media campaign I had the opportunity to visit the New York Comic Con thanks to our friends at the Anti-bullying Coalition who generously invited the BGA to share their booth space.

The response from the attendees of Comic Con to the BGA’s message of needing healthier, non-sexualized, non-stereotyped, empowering media for girls was incredible. From both men and women, boys and girls, everyone we spoke to nodded in agreement and shared with us their own stories and frustrations. I was really impressed by the response, especially because many parts of the comic and gaming world are known for being sexist and objectifying towards women. Because of this, I was unsure of how our message would be received. The support was overwhelming.

I had a blast talking with all of the geeks and super heroes and villains. All of their costumes were fantastic and creative. I loved the conversations with the young women who told me they had taken the sexualization aspect into account and modified their costumes so that little girls could look up to them (Thanks Wonder Woman! I mean Queen Helene!). We spoke about how ridiculous it is to think these characters could really battle bad guys wearing next to nothing. The women told me how they were tired of the “ComicCon girl” trope (the girls who wear next to nothing and pose for pictures) and how a lot of female comic fans are feminists who are fed up with the unnecessary sexualization. I thanked them for making geek culture a safer space for my daughter and other girls to come into.

I think the Halloween costume industry could learn something from these women at Comic Con. Their costumes were incredible, detailed, and unique. Some could be considered sexy, but in a way that feels authentic and not like that commercialized porny look that modern day Halloween costumes have. The teen and child costumes I saw at Comic Con were all tasteful and age appropriate. If these ladies can pull it off, I’m sure the companies making Halloween costumes can, too.

Want to help spearhead change? Join up with our efforts and petition on Causes here.

Sign the petition to Target asking them to be the retailer that takes the lead saying “No!” to sexy Halloween for kids.


Wonder Woman (Queen Helene) and Kaye (who wants to be Wonder Woman). Wonder Woman talked to us for a long time about modifying her costume so it was true to character and focused on being a warrior and not a sex symbol.

Another great Comic Con costume (photo via Carrie Goldman)

So much detail in this costume - this is what captures the imagination, not another look-alike Naughty Nurse-like costume.

These two ladies had a lot to say about how geek girls can dress and act while being mindful about how all of it impacts younger girls.

I saved the best for last. This little Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (yo girls like them too!) gave me a big smile and a note for our #BraveGirlsWant board that read, "Brave girls need to be brave." You bet they do, Kido!


  1. This is the first year that my students can wear costumes to school on Halloween. I went over the rules with the kids today. A couple of kids were upset because they don’t have money for costumes. I gave them a couple of ideas of how they could dress up as different characters from books we have read.

    They ran with it. I need to go buy a few things – pipe cleaners, some extra card stock, ribbon, and some other bits and pieces for the kids.

    One of the best ideas – a boy, who said they didn’t have money to buy a costume, was saying he really wanted to be spider man. A friend asked well could he borrow on of the class cameras? and then suggested the boy wear a red T-shirt under another shirt and walk around with a camera with a press badge that says Peter Parker. (I’m making the press pass for him). What I really loved – none of the kids got hung up on matching the race of the characters with the student’s race.

  2. One of my favorite things about going to conventions is seeing all of the costumes! It’s a great way for people to show off their creativity, and a lot of thought and time goes into the costumes you see. I think the Halloween costume industry is, unfortunately, marketed towards people who don’t want to/can’t put a lot of time and effort into a costume. They decide “sex sells” and take it to seriously ridiculous extremes, so sometimes your only options are to buy something tasteless or do it yourself. :/

    On another note, if the BGA wants to come to more conventions, there are some great ones in the Midwest. C2E2 in Chicago is my favorite; I’d love to see you guys there!

  3. Also! If you haven’t seen it yet, you should definitely check out “Take Back Halloween.” It’s got tons of costume ideas, all based on women from history and mythology, including Audrey Hepburn, Athena, and Amelia Earhart. There’s a biography included with each costume, and resources to find all of the pieces.


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