Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Farewell, sexy Handmaid's Tale costume, we hardly knew ye

Photo: Jim Watson (Getty Images)

The Handmaid’s Tale, a Margaret Atwood book turned popular TV show, depicts a dystopian future in which a totalitarian theocracy controls every aspect of women’s lives. It is nearly relentless in its portrayal of inhumane horrors. It also features women wearing red cloaks and white hoods that have entered modern pop culture to the point that the outfit has not only been adopted as a fitting costume for global protests, but, well, by idiot companies, too—companies like Yandy, a lingerie retailer that recently unveiled a very bad Handmaid’s Tale Halloween costume.

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The “Brave Red Maiden” item, to the surprise of nobody but the fashion mavericks at Yandy, was pilloried pretty much immediately.

Probably because “sexy oppression” is a tough sell to most, Yandy’s top brass reversed course soon after the backlash picked up steam, removing the item from its online storefront.

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The statement issued by the company is as muddled as you’d expect. It contains, in decidedly dystopian phrasing, the promise that Yandy’s “corporate ideology is rooted in female empowerment, and gender empowerment overall” and that it was bummed to learn that the “Brave Red Maiden” was “being seen as a symbol of women’s oppression, rather than an expression of women’s empowerment.” How they could have anticipated this response, other than reading The Handmaid’s Tale or watching the show, is impossible to tell. Weirder still, Yandy revealed their inspiration for the costume: “witnessing its use in recent months as a powerful protest image,” as in its recent appearance at Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing.

While arguments can be made that there’s empowerment in reinterpreting the iconic outfit any way a woman wants, it’s definitely better for these debates to be had by individuals instead of corporations—especially corporations that still sell a whole bunch of variations on “sexy racism” at their store.

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[via The Daily Dot]

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About the author

Reid McCarter

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.