So is it too soon for a Caitlyn Jenner Halloween costume? Or perhaps the idea is terrible in any way, shape or form? Some on social media thought so, decrying the decision of some costume outlets to offer Jenner ensembles ahead of Oct. 31.
“The caitlyn jenner halloween costumes were obviously made to mock her, and frankly its not funny, its ignorant and disrespectful,” one representative Twitter comment read.
One retailer, Spirit Halloween, became the target of an online petition: “Stop Exploiting Caitlyn Jenner with a Transphobic Costume.”
“We demand that you revoke your ideas and production of a Caitlyn Jenner costume for Halloween,” the petition, signed by more than 6,700 people as of early Wednesday morning, read. “With a reputation of sexist, racist, and culturally appropriative costumes, we are concerned that this costume will continue your oppressive tradition with a transphobic costume of Caitlyn Jenner.”
Spirit — the same company that offered Slender Man costumes last year — stood by its creation.
“At Spirit Halloween, we create a wide range of costumes that are often based upon celebrities, public figures, heroes and superheroes,” Lisa Barr, the outlet’s senior director of marketing, told NBC News. “We feel that Caitlyn Jenner is all of the above and that she should be celebrated. The Caitlyn Jenner costume reflects just that.”
However, Spirit seems to have removed its costume from its Web site.
AnytimeCostumes.com, meanwhile, gave the Internet the hard sell on its “Call Me Caitlyn Unisex Adult Costume,” which it offers for $74.99.
“Everyone has seen Vanity Fair’s popular July cover, so you’ll be easily recognized this Halloween when you dress up in the Call Me Caitlyn Unisex Adult Costume,” the site wrote. “With the items in the set, you’ll be able to emulate her picture perfect look for the upcoming party this year.”
The description seemed to refer to Caitlyn as merely a part of Bruce Jenner’s personality.
“Included are a white padded top and matching shorts as well as a brunette wig so that you can dress as the softer side of the popular Olympian,” it read. “A sash that says ‘call me Caitlyn’ also comes with the set so that there will be no mistaking who you are dressed as this Halloween.”
Such a costume, Anytime said, would be the height of hilarity.
“You probably won’t break any Twitter records when you wear this outfit like Caitlyn did when she first made her account, but you’ll be sure to get a few laughs out of your friends and the other guests at the get together,” it concluded.
Putting aside for the moment the argument that transgender individuals are improperly appropriating other people’s gender, the world doesn’t always smile on men who play dress-up as women for laughs.
“There’s no tasteful way to ‘celebrate’ Caitlyn Jenner or respect transgender people this way on the one night of the year when people use their most twisted imaginations to pretend to be villains and monsters,” Vincent Villano of the National Center for Transgender Equality told the Huffington Post late last week.
Such problems aren’t specific to Caitlyn Jenner Halloween costumes. Oct. 31 isn’t just a time when people push boundaries in a bad way — remember Prince Harry as a Nazi? — but when perhaps innocently conceived outfits can flashily disrespect others.
“Halloween is a notorious time for offensive outfits,” Kjerstin Johnson at Bitch Media wrote in 2011. “If you’re still not sure what your costume is going to be this year, make sure you don’t go the culturally appropriative route. Dressing up as ‘another culture,’ is racist, and an act of privilege. … Like dressing up as a ‘sexy squaw’ while being completely unaware of the horrific rates of sexual violence Native women face.”
Though Anytime, which declined comment to NBC, may be swept up in the controversy, it’s budget knockoff of Jenner’s “extremely sexy lace corset by Agent Provocateur,” as US Weekly put it, does at least vaguely resemble the original.