Thursday, November 3, 2011

Adorable and Transgender, Innocent and Subversive

I ran across this photo the other day thanks to Feminist Frequency. In light of Sociological Images’ usual skewering of sexist Halloween costumes, I found this pink Darth Vader so striking--in a good way.

The costume is cute, subversive, adorable, transgender, innocent and well-executed all at once. It’s a bundle of culturally contradictory (again, in a good way) messages about gender. There’s the combination of Darth Vader--usually gendered as male. The tall, dark menacing figure with one of the deepest voices imaginable is the most iconic character in a movie series that is known for its heavily male fan following. But the costume’s pink coloring genders it female. As far as Halloween costumes go, it’s not the usual female costume because it’s not creating a “sexy” persona (unfortunately, this trend is not confined to costumes designed for adults. Women and girls can use male costumes as a sense of empowerment, but this pink Darth Vader’s empowerment can’t derive entirely from that as it’s full pink--the most completely gendered color.

Since I first saw the image, it's been stuck in my head as such a simple and great example of how symbols so central to our culture and gender ideology can be remade to send very different and even radical messages--all in the package a child's costume.


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