So what’s this all about, anyway?

First of all, Take Back Halloween isn’t a store. We’re not selling any of this stuff. We’re a resource guide: we come up with the costume designs, explain what you’ll need to pull off the look, and provide links to where you can buy the various components.

Our overall approach is about creating great costumes with stuff that is readily available: either already in your closet, on sale at eBay or some other retailer, or in stock at a costume store. No sewing! See our “how to use this website” page for a quick rundown on how it works.

What we mean by “taking it back”

We love Halloween. We really love Halloween. We think it’s cool that there’s one day a year when people can dress up as anything they want. What we don’t think is cool is that increasingly women are only supposed to dress up as one thing: “Sexy _____” (fill in the blank). Sexy Nurse, Sexy Cowgirl, Sexy whatever. This cartoon by Andy Marlette sums it up pretty well:

There’s nothing wrong with sexy (for adults), and if you want to go that route, fine. Have fun! We just want there to be other options as well.

Our vision for Halloween

We think there’s a serious lack of opportunities in life to dress up in strange clothes and pretend to be somebody else. Unless you’re in show business, Halloween is pretty much it. Why waste it?

Scary costumes are traditional, and that’s great. But there are other things you could do. We have a background in history and theatre, so we think of Halloween as an opportunity to portray a specific individual. For example, you could:

  • Celebrate your heritage. North America is full of people from every single part of the world. But no matter where we’re from, we all have amazing queens, heroines, and goddesses in our cultural backgrounds.
  • Channel the goddess. It’s a great way to explore the female divine—or just wear an awesome costume. (Use care if you’re stepping outside your own heritage.)
  • Be Queen for a Day. To heck with princesses. Be a queen.
  • Honor your personal heroine. Who inspires you? Who fascinates you?
  • Try on some red carpet glamour. Dressing to the nines is fun. When else do you get to wear elbow length gloves and feather boas? Unless you’re a movie star in real life, Halloween is your chance.

In fact, we have more ideas for costumes than we have time to post on this site. We’re adding more costumes all the time.

A note about offensive costumes

We shouldn’t have to say this, but: ethnic stereotype costumes are A Bad Idea. Geisha girl? “Poke-Her-Hotness”? People, that stuff is just not cool.

In putting together our costume resources, we’ve run across some extremely useful items that unfortunately have extremely annoying names. Like “geisha wig.” The wig in question is just the bouffant upsweep hairdo that women in China, Japan, and Korea have worn at various times over the past two thousand years, and it comes in awfully handy if you’re dressing up as, say, Wu Zetian. Yet apparently there is an unwritten rule that any remotely Asian-looking wig for sale in North America has to be labeled a “geisha wig.” Drives us absolutely nuts. We’ve made every effort to avoid products like that, and even spent hours shopping for sites that don’t have gross labeling. But obviously we have no control over what descriptions retailers use, so we apologize for any links that turn creepy.


Who we are

Take Back Halloween is the first venture from the Real History Project, which was conceived in 2010 as a series of projects to popularize knowledge of the past—the real stuff, not just the Dead White Male version of history. It was created by Suzanne Scoggins, a writer and feminist specializing in women’s history. The plan is for a variety of projects under the Real History umbrella: websites, videos, books, and grassroots events. Take Back Halloween is the first thing we’ve done, and so far it’s the only thing we’ve done, since it’s become enormously popular and is taking up all our time. Which we love! We’re not complaining! But it does mean we haven’t had time to do anything else yet.

Contact Suzanne Scoggins at scoggins.suzanne@gmail.com for more info, or with any questions or comments about the site. Happy costuming!

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