Retailer pulls sexy 'The Handmaid's Tale' costume after backlash
The “Brave Red Maiden” costume was removed from Yandy's website following complaints. (Yandy.com)
Jackie Dunham, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Friday, September 21, 2018 11:56AM EDT
What would Aunt Lydia think?
An American lingerie retailer has stopped selling a “sexy” Halloween costume modelled after the outfits worn by oppressed female characters in the dystopian novel and hit television series “The Handmaid’s Tale” following intense backlash.
The online store Yandy’s “Brave Red Maiden” costume featured a white bonnet, bright red cloak with giant slits up two sides and a hood, and a short red mini dress for the price of US$64.95 – fishnet pantyhose not included.
“An upsetting dystopian future has emerged where women no longer have a say. However, we say be bold and speak your mind in this exclusive Brave Red Maiden costume,” the description for the item reads.
In a caption below images of the costume, a slogan reads: “Everybody. Own your sexy.”
Canadian author Margaret Atwood’s best-selling novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” became wildly popular after it was adapted for television. The story centres on a totalitarian society where fertile women are rare and forced into sexual slavery in order to propagate humanity.
The repressed female characters are called “handmaids” and wear conservative, long red dresses and cloaks with distinctive white bonnets as their uniform throughout the series.
The reaction to Yandy’s recreation of the outfit was swift with an overwhelming majority of Twitter users expressing their disapproval.
I’m dressing up as existential despair this Halloween pic.twitter.com/fMyuNuuU1g— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) September 21, 2018
Yes, this is what the handmaid's tale was missing - more leg https://t.co/7A6vI7Vpnd— Amy Louise Doherty (@amyloudoherty) September 21, 2018
WHHHHHHHYYYYYYYYYYYY pic.twitter.com/ITHe2Ni9O0— dontwasteyourpretty (@wastedprettypod) September 20, 2018
Is there anything better than dressing up as someone who is ritualistically raped, as long as it’s a sexy costume? Blessed be the one that wears this dumpster fire.— Cat Mathison (@CatIsCaca) September 21, 2018
The perfect costume that says, "I'm stuck in a dystopian nightmare, but also feel sexy."— Kiss My Sass (@soulswild) September 21, 2018
There were others, however, that said it’s no different than other racy Halloween costumes for women.
How is this much different from women wearing sexy nun costumes?— Dan LeBlanc (@augustandjune) September 21, 2018
The PC police have come early this year. Yea, sexy Handmaid's Tale isn't the best look, neither is sexy nurse. This is why conservatives call us liberals snowflakes— Derek (@Derek_Reed) September 21, 2018
On Thursday night, Yandy released a statement on Twitter announcing they would stop selling their sexualized version of the outfit in response to online backlash.
“Over the last few hours, it has become obvious that our “Yandy Brave Red Maiden Costume” is being seen as a symbol of women’s oppression, rather than an expression of women’s empowerment,” the statement read. “This is unfortunate, as it was not our intention on any level. Our initial inspiration to create the piece was through witnessing its use in recent months as a powerful protest image.”
The Arizona-based company then announced it was removing the costume from its website “given the sincere, heartfelt response, supported by numerous personal stories we’ve received.” Yandy’s statement received mixed reviews with some accusing the retailer of intentionally stirring up controversy for publicity while others defended the costume.
Your intention was to cause a scandal & to become the focus of media attention. You succeeded. Your "Indian" costumes are a fetishisation on Native American women which is a contradiction to "own YOUR sexy." You mean "encourage the white male gaze & re enact colonialism."— Birdspeed (@Birdspeedfire) September 21, 2018
Thanks?— Jen (@JenScullyJung) September 21, 2018
You weren't trying to capitalise on a symbol of oppression at all. Maybe have a few staff members read the book and discuss it outside of your sales department goals.
Thank you for removing this gross item.
I see nothing wrong with this costume. A few prudes ruin it for everyone else and they aren't your customers either. What a shame.— Scarlet Meadows (@SMintheSouth) September 21, 2018
People seriously need to stop being so damn offended about everything right down to a flipping costume! I’m a feminist liberal but even I think this has gone a bit overboard. But now here I am being offended about offended people haha never ends— Clarice Lakota (@ThunderBirdEye9) September 21, 2018
It’s not the first time Yandy has been criticized for its merchandise. Last year, the retailer was the target of online reproach for its numerous Native American-style costumes and its suggestive take on the child character Eleven in the Netflix show “Stranger Things.”