When I step into the legs, pull the fabric up around my waist, slip in my arms, and zip, I am a space warrior. Belt clicks into place, helmet on, visor down. Ready.
I am on a mission. That mission is to forevermore wear costumes that make me feel like a champion.
It’s not a straightforward goal if you’re a woman. Search online for “women’s astronaut costume” and you will find a hundred variations on one idea: Sex Astronaut. I’m not aware of anyone actually calling the costume by that name, but that’s what it is. Dye it black and you’ve got Catwoman. Disregard the NASA appliqués and it would be easy to confuse with “Sexy Nurse”—in fact, some of these space cadets must be recycled nurses, because they also come with miniskirts and plunging necklines and, the most practical of accessories, knee-high boots. If aerodynamics actually factored into spacesuit design, then these prototypes would have something going for them.
Of course, the same is true of googling “men’s astronaut costume” or just, simply, “astronaut costume.” Type it in and your screen will populate with pictures of babely hunks in skintight suits, pouty, naughty, dazed…
No. Of course not. Look for any kind of men’s costume, astronaut included, and you will most likely find a costume designed to actually look like the thing it’s supposed to be. Imagine that.
The seismic rift between the, shall we say, aesthetic of women’s and men’s Halloween costumes is no revelation. But when I decided four years ago that I wanted to dress as something classic and awesomely pure and fun for Halloween, and I realized I wouldn’t have the time or energy to make that costume and so I started searching for one to buy, I found myself disappointed and disheartened. I couldn’t find a single astronaut costume made for a woman that wasn’t designed to make me look like a Bond girl—or, more realistically, a stripper. What the hell.
I bought the smallest men’s astronaut costume I could find, and it is still so big that I have to cinch it with a fanny pack to keep it in place. I take a special, nerdy kind of pride in this costume, which I have continued to wear every Halloween since. It’s just a cheap polyester jumpsuit with a bunch of straps and fake zippers and patches denoting that I am an Important Space Person, but I love it. I also bought a helmet made for kids but that also fits grown humans. It makes sounds and the visor flips up and everything about it makes me laugh. It is impossible to wear that outfit and not saunter around like I’m John Wayne, or John Wayne in Space (now there’s a good costume idea). It is fun and silly and people love to play with the helmet, and every time I put it on I feel like the life of the party. That is the kind of feeling worth dressing up for.
Wouldn’t it be great if all costumes made the people who wear them feel like a particular breed of badass? Wouldn’t it be even better if we all just felt that way all the time anyway? Or, at the very least, wouldn’t it be nice if an internet search for a women’s costume gave us something just like the men’s, but in our size?
Maybe we should all be on a mission.