1980s PLASTIC HALLOWEEN COSTUMES RANKED
Whimsical, carefree, and filled with the loving, glowing embrace of the internet.
Kids have it so great these days with their iHomes and self-driving ovens and nanny co-ops. Never even imagining that a crowdsourced, Pinterest-approved, handcrafted, artisanal costume was once upon a time not even a glimmer in anyone’s eye.
Take a journey with me to the existential crisis known as Halloween during the 1980’s.
First and foremost, if you’re not familiar with the plastic costume phenomenon plaguing the nation’s most vulnerable citizens, allow me to introduce you.
You went to the Halloween store. It was most likely located in the back of the pharmacy. There, you were greeted with a wall of boxes with a clear lid and inside, the mask of your favorite TV or movie character with its face smushed into an unrecognizable rictus.
The plastic smock, which somehow retained all your body heat and additionally siphoned the heat of any other living thing in its proximity, usually bore the drawing of the character the costume was supposed to represent, in a farcical trompe l’oeil.
Your embarrassment would come later when you were trick-or-treating and realized you were a party in the perpetration of your own malaise.
For now however, there is only excitement as your mother purchases the highly flammable non-biodegradable atrocity currently strangling coral reefs and adding to landfill volume as we speak.
You WANT to be this character. You are READY. You BELIEVE. You are GROSSLY disappointed, which you seem to forget, every goddamned year.
1. Rainbow Brite
The original candy raver, she was the obvious inspiration for the 90s club kids in New York. What’s cool about this one is that the eyes are not where you’d expect them to be, but in order to achieve her classic cherubic look, you end up staring out of the top of her bangs. Cute and creepy gets the Smarties bracelets at Limelight.
RANKING: 4 candy wrappers
Jem looks like an Eastern Bloc motel housekeeper and not the glamorous rock star she purports. She has yellow hair, in stark and frankly insane contrast to the reference photo of her you’re sporting on your chest. Who is this imposter??? Why didn’t the makers of this costume even TRY??? You have a vision of yourself and this is not that! You had to really use your imagination to feel even remotely cool in this one, which is why all the 40-something women you know in your life who endured this shame are insanely creative and cool and fun and not at all suffering from crippling self-doubt on a daily basis, OK?
RANKING: 1 candy wrapper
3. Wonder Woman
Am I? I- I just don’t know. The box says so. She looks good on the box. Why do her “boots” connect to her thighs? Are the starry underwear a belt? This is dumb! I don’t feel powerful, I feel sad and hideous. Don’t look at me! Can we just ask the neighbors to mail the candy?
RANKING: 0 candy wrappers
4. Strawberry Shortcake
It’s all sweet and good. This one I didn’t feel self-conscious in, because I was six and who gives a fuck about any old thing when you’re six? Possibly smelled of actual artificial strawberry? Might be remembering that wrong, or someone was wearing Lip Smackers near me the whole night. Can’t say. Gave me legitimate pause when one of my parents’ friends accidentally burned a hole in the plastic dress with a cigarette at the Halloween party, which was actually just a bunch of my parents’ friends in the living room, sloshed.
RANKING: 3 candy wrappers
5. Barbie Bride
No Barbie on earth came with such a sad Mom bob haircut, I don’t know what I was thinking. The tiara was an adorable touch, but the bouquet drawn on the waistline a bit much. Although, if you’re in elementary school and flying high on pixie stix, no one was giving you a real bouquet of flowers, so… pretend you’re a bride who needs her floral arrangement permanently affixed because there could be a fist fight.
RANKING: 2 candy wrappers