What an incredible day this has been! Exactly two weeks ago we launched our Kickstarter to fund the next year of Take Back Halloween.
And today, less than halfway through our Kickstarter campaign, we reached 100% our initial goal!
We’re doing the happy dance of joy, because now we know we’ll be able to bring you another year of creative and empowering costumes. We’re thrilled and grateful and frankly just beside ourselves with relief and happiness.
You know what this means? This means that not only will we still be here, but we’ll be bringing you these awesome new costumes:
- Catherine the Great
- Bessie Coleman
- Eleanor of Aquitaine
- Empress Theodora
- Maria Makiling
- Wild card costume — backers get to vote!
And on top of that…
A very special and wonderful backer (you know who you are and we LURVE you) has stepped up to commission a seventh costume!
Thank you, all of you, for helping to make this happen. We are so honored and grateful.
And you know who else is grateful? The girls who rely on our site but can’t necessarily afford to support us. Just last night I got an email from a young girl who is only 15 and can’t afford to pledge, but has been hoping and praying we would get funded. She says our site means “so much” to her. I get emails like that a lot; we have many, many fans among the younger set.
What’s fantastic is that we still have more than two weeks to go in our Kickstarter (I can hardly believe it as I type it), which means that we can think seriously about those stretch goals. I’ll talk about those more tomorrow.
For now, we’re just going to say a huge THANK YOU to all of you who made this happen. Thank you for believing in us and supporting our vision.
October is off to a great start here in the land of Take Back Halloween. Our first week on Kickstarter has been fantastic, thanks to our wonderful community. We’re already 46% of the way towards our goal!
We’ve already gotten some very early media coverage:
- Halloween costume website announces new resource guides, contest and fundraising — a great roundup from the Examiner
- Racy, Sexy, and Culturally Appropriate-y: It’s Halloween Again, Folks! — don’t worry, we’re listed as one of the good guys
- Disappointed in the lack of variety/material in women’s Halloween costumes? — an amazing post from Chicken Noodle Love Box that’s tearing it up on Tumblr
We’ll be getting more press coverage as October rolls on. In the meantime, share these links with your friends, share our Kickstarter project on Twitter/Facebook/Tumblr, and help spread the word!
Thank you all so much for helping us Take Back Halloween.
Yesterday we launched our new Kickstarter campaign, timed to run through the witching season (aka the month of October). We’re raising funds for a new year of Take Back Halloween, so that we can continue to make the world safe for creative and empowering costumes:
The popularity of our site (did you know that we’re ranked #1 in Google for dozens of important women in history and mythology?) means that our costs have ballooned since last year. It is getting very expensive just to host the site. So we’ve divided our project into a basic funding goal, which is the minimum we need to guarantee a new season of costumes, and stretch goals to add more costumes.
Our basic funding goal will allow us to add six more costumes, with one of them to be voted on by our Kickstarter backers. We’ll get the Bessie Coleman costume ready in time for Black History Month in February, and then do the vote for the sixth costume following Women’s History Month in March. The rest of the costumes will debut at various points in the spring/summer of 2014.
We’re also going to add some new site features to help people sort through our 80+ costumes:
We will be thrilled just to raise enough money for the basic season. If we somehow raise more than that, we’ll add more costumes, with even more opportunities for backer input. Here’s a preview of the stretch goals we have in mind, just in case we get there:
It wouldn’t be a Kickstarter without rewards: the goodies that backers get for helping to fund a project.
All our backers will be enrolled in the Voting List, which means you get to vote on the new costumes. You’ll also receive our monthly newsletter with updates throughout the year.
For more tangible rewards, we’ve created a variety of small posters (8×10 and 11×14), available both as digital downloads and as professionally printed physical posters. These fit right into standard frames and mats, and make wonderful gifts. We’ll be shipping all of them in time for the holidays.
We have previews of the posters here on our website, since it’s not possible to upload really big images at Kickstarter: Poster Previews.
We also have a few commemorative pinback buttons left for those of you collecting them. They’re available at the Button Collector/Named Sponsor tier ($65) and above. The buttons are very limited, so for non-button collectors at the $65 level we’re offering an extra poster print.
At the Mojo Angel tier ($115), we’ll send you one of our larger 18×24 posters. We have two designs at that size: the Timeline of Women in World History and our new Goddess poster.
Once again we’re offering our super-generous backers the opportunity to commission a costume. If you’d rather commission a poster, we can do that too.
Here’s the whole scheme at a glance:
So head on over to our Kickstarter project page to read more, make a pledge, and help us take back Halloween!
Note: Winners have been posted here.
Our costume contest last year was such fun that we’re going to do it again this year. And this time with more prizes!
We’re thrilled to announce that five Amazon gift certificates have been donated for our costume contest this time. That means we can offer a prize in each of our costume categories, plus a Grand Prize for the best costume overall.
So whether you’re dressing up as Baba Yaga or Diana Ross or Grace O’Malley or Hypatia or any of the women in our costume categories, send us your pictures for a chance to win!
Best Notable Woman Costume = $25 Amazon gift certificate
Best Queen Costume = $25 Amazon gift certificate
Best Glamour Grrl Costume = $25 Amazon gift certificate
Best Goddess or Mythological Figure Costume = $25 Amazon gift certificate
Grand Prize for Best Costume Overall = $50 Amazon gift certificate
1. The photo(s) must be of you or a friend or family member in costume. If the photo is of a friend or family member, you must obtain their permission to submit it. You’ll need to tell us their name as well as yours, and note what your relationship is (sister, daughter, etc.).
2. The costume doesn’t have to be inspired by one of our Take Back Halloween designs, but we are more inclined to be impressed by one that is. The costume does need to fall into one of our four categories: a notable woman from history, a queen, a glamorous star, a goddess or mythological figure.
3. Please tell us what the costume is, in case we are too dense to figure it out.
4. The costume may be from this year or any previous Halloween.
5. You may enter more than once, if you have multiple costumes you want to share.
6. By submitting your photo, you are giving us permission to publish it on the Take Back Halloween website and on our Facebook page. You can send in multiple photos if you’re not sure what the best one is or if you need several angles to reveal the full glory of the costume.
7. Submissions should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
8. The deadline for submissions is 11:59 pm EST on Friday, November 8, 2013.
Check out our 2013 Costume Contest album on Facebook to see the entries we’ve uploaded so far. We expect to publish the winners the week of November 11, 2013.
For most of the world, the 2013 Halloween season is just starting. For us, the 2013 season has been going on for months, as we designed and published the new costumes funded by our Kickstarter campaign. This week we unveiled the last of the 19 new costumes with Baba Yaga and Hedy Lamarr. Here’s the update I posted to our Kickstarter backers:
This week we published the last of the 19 new costumes for our 2013 season, all of them made possible by YOU. With the terrifying Baba Yaga and the brilliant Hedy Lamarr, the full set of new costumes funded by our 2013 Kickstarter is now complete.
And it’s all thanks to YOU.
Our traffic is currently through the roof, and the new costumes are a huge hit with all the women and girls out there looking for an alternative to the Sexy Toaster school of Halloween costumes.
What makes me really happy is how wide our audience really is. The teenage girls on Tumblr are tearing it up (you should see the mash notes we get), twentysomethings love us, moms love us, and right now there’s a whole conference of professional women in STEM who are using our costumes for an upcoming event.
Here’s the full list of cool/beautiful/weird costumes your support made possible, all published over the past several months:
(click on each picture to go to the costume page on our site)
Thank you so much for your support, participation, and encouragement over this past year. And thank you, as ever, for helping us Take Back Halloween!
P.S. Look for your September newsletter in the next few days, with announcements about this Halloween and our coming season.
One hundred and seventy-five years ago today, Queen Liliuokalani was born. In honor of the occasion we’re unveiling our new Liliuokalani costume, which is based on the beautiful portraits made of Her Majesty in the 1880s and 90s:
Queen Liliuokalani was a big favorite with our backers and Facebook friends when we ran the survey for new costumes, and we’re delighted to celebrate her memory. She’s a deeply loved figure in Hawaiian history and an inspiring role model for all of us.
Our new Trung Sisters costume, which we published yesterday, has been a long time coming. People have been asking us for a DIY Trung Sisters costume since our very first year of operation. If you grew up in a Viet community, you’re of course familiar with the seamstress-made costumes sometimes worn on Hai Ba Trung Day. But, we were asked, what about something that looks more ancient? What about something that looks like the Dong Son culture, and the pictures in the illustrated history books?
We came up with three basic requirements for the costume:
1. That it look like the ancient Viet style;
2. That it be recognizable as the Trung Sisters;
3. That it be, like all our costumes, easy to put together with no sewing required.
And this is the result:
With the swords, the feathers, and the bright yellow jackets and sashes, everyone will immediately know you’re supposed to be the Trung Sisters. Now, all you need to do is wrangle a couple of elephants to ride on…
Beyond the legend: If you’re doing research on ancient Vietnam, or if you’re just a history geek, here are some useful English-language scholarly articles to get you started.
- From Co-loa to the Trung Sisters’ Revolt: Viet-Nam as the Chinese Found It. (pdf download) By Stephen O’Harrow. Published in 1978, this is a key English-language paper.
- Rethinking the Status of Vietnamese Women in Folklore and Oral History. (pdf download) By Nguyen Van Ky. A short paper exploring what can be deduced about ancient gender roles in Vietnam.
- View from the East Mountain: An Examination of the Relationship between the Dong Son and Lake Tien Civilizations in the First Millennium B.C. (pdf download) By John Tessitore. An overview of the Dong Son culture, with only a brief reference to the Trung Sisters.
- Investigating Cultural Evolution Using Phylogenetic Analysis: The Origins and Descent of the Southeast Asian Tradition of Warp Ikat Weaving. (online) By Christopher D. Buckley. This isn’t about the Trung Sisters at all; it’s a fascinating new study about the ancient roots of ikat weaving.
If you understand Vietnamese, the documentary Di tim trang phuc Viet (In Search of Vietnamese Costumes) is a treasure trove. You can watch all 24 episodes on YouTube. Here’s the first one:
Aside from the fact that we have new costumes for both of them this season, which we published this week? They’ve both been the subjects of highly inaccurate movies with really cool costumes. Really cool costumes that we didn’t hesitate to mine for inspiration!
Here’s Christina of Sweden, and notice the still photo of Greta Garbo from the movie Queen Christina:
And here’s our Hypatia costume page, which uses Rachel Weisz from the movie Agora for the model:
But what about the history behind the movies?
For that, you need books. The most recent English language biography of Queen Christina is Veronica Buckley’s Christina, Queen of Sweden: The Restless Life of a European Eccentric. As for Hypatia, the key modern study is Hypatia of Alexandria by Maria Dzielska. If you want the CliffsNotes version (and an explanation of why the movie Agora is full of wrong), this Armarium Magnum blog post will fix you up.
Check out our new Marie Curie costume page:
And in case you missed it, last week we published Grace Hopper:
Earlier in July we published Rosalind Franklin:
And with that, the original trilogy of great modern scientists we promised in our Kickstarter is complete.
But! Since you all voted for us to add a Hedy Lamarr costume, that trilogy will very soon become a quartet. ETA on Hedy is early next month.
We’ve been publishing our new pirate costumes in chronological order. First we had Grace O’Malley, who ruled the seas in Elizabethan times. Then we had Anne Bonny and Mary Read, who lived during the Golden Age of Piracy in the early 18th century.
And now our pirate trilogy is complete with Ching Shih (1775-1844), the latest and greatest of them all.
Ching Shih was more than a pirate captain; she was a pirate admiral, commanding a vast fleet that was really almost a floating civilization. In the early 19th century her Red Flag Fleet ruled the South China Sea, striking terror into the hearts of citizens and consternation into the hearts of government officials.
The Qing Dynasty tried and failed to defeat Ching Shih, and finally resorted to bribery. In exchange for giving up their thieving ways, Ching Shih and her pirates were granted full pardons and allowed to keep their loot. It was an unusually happy ending.
In addition to being a ruthless pirate, an organizational genius, and an incredibly savvy political player, Ching Shih was also a young mother with toddlers underfoot. It’s mind-boggling to contemplate what this woman’s life was like. She’s definitely on my list of people to visit once we have a working time machine.
There are no contemporary images of Ching Shih, but there is an amazing painted scroll depicting the Chinese campaign against the Red Flag Fleet. The 18-meter scroll is now in the collection of the Hong Kong Maritime Museum, and it’s the background of our main illustration on the costume page.
Today is the birthday of Rosalind Franklin, who would be 93 years old if she were still with us. I’m delighted to see that Google is honoring her with a Doodle:
We’re also celebrating the occasion with our new Rosalind Franklin costume page. (The color coordination with the Google Doodle is sheer coincidence. I hadn’t even seen the Doodle until just now.) Check it out:
Every time we publish a costume it becomes my new favorite. With our double Anne Bonny/Mary Read costume page, I now have two new favorites:
That’s Anne on the left, dressed for shore leave in a combination of stolen finery and sailor slops. Mary on the right is dressed for ship duty—which is to say, her outfit is much closer to what real pirates wore every day.
More people have asked for pirate costumes than anything else, and so we had a number of goals with this. We wanted to ground our outfits in authentic sailor garb of the early 18th century, employing period fabrics like striped ticking and blue-and-white check. We wanted to illustrate the real stuff that pirates wore (shoes and stockings, for example), but still find room for the more fanciful items that Hollywood has led us to expect (cavalry boots). And finally, we wanted to come up with believable but cool costumes that wouldn’t just be clones of the Johnny Depp look.
Pirates wore a combination of standard-issue sailor slops, plundered loot, stuff they’d sewn themselves, and rags. We provide resource links for all the items in the outfits, but in true pirate spirit we encourage you to use as much scavenged stuff as possible. Old leather belts are great, the more rugged the better. You can transform a man’s modern shirt into something more 18th centuryish by trimming the points off the collar or removing the collar entirely. Capri pants can work as sailor’s breeches, or you can cut the bottoms off a pair of old pants so they’re calf length. Be creative and resourceful. Just like a pirate!
Check it out: Anne Bonny and Mary Read.