Online retailer Yandy pulled a controversial costume it was selling for Halloween – the “Brave Red Maiden” costume, which is a sexy version of the iconic uniform of Hulu’s popular TV series The Handmaid’s Tale. The company decided to discontinue selling it after the costume sparked outrage on social media.
The costume included a red mini dress, cape, and white bonnet. The model in its photo was also wearing stiletto heels and showing off the costume’s more revealing features.
"An upsetting dystopian future has emerged where women no longer have a say," the online description read. "However, we say be bold and speak your mind in this exclusive Brave Red Maiden costume."
Internet outrage was swift and widespread, with one Twitter user declaring: “nothing like a sexy rape victim for Halloween fun.”
The Handmaid’s Tale is a critically acclaimed series based on the book by Margaret Atwood. It depicts a dystopian future where women are oppressed, and handmaids are forced to bear children through ritualized rape. Part of the tactics of oppression by those in power is that they force handmaidens to wear uniforms of long red dresses and white hoods, identifying their sole purpose in society – to procreate.
The series, which premiered around the time of the #MeToo movement, and specifically the Handmaid’s costume of red robe and bonnet, have been used as a symbol for advocating for women’s rights, including most recently with the Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination. Protestors dressed in the costumes and gathered outside of his Senate hearing to protest his nomination, based on the threat that he would overturn Roe v. Wade, a crucial part of women’s healthcare rights.
The original handmaid costumes have been donned in other protests around the country when women’s rights have been threatened. Many people believe Yandy’s choice to sell the sexy version of the costume for Halloween was made in poor taste and exploits the struggle of women for the company’s own profit.
"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 clothing retailer said. "This is unfortunate, as it was not our intention on any level."
Yandy then announced that it was removing the costume from its online store: "Given the sincere, heartfelt response, supported by numerous personal stories we've received, we are removing the costume from our site."