With Halloween coming up next month, lots of people are already starting to search for the most topical outfit to wear on the big night. There's one that's caused some pretty intense controversy, but it just got the stamp of approval from the person it parodies: Caitlyn Jenner.
After Jenner, the reality-TV star and former Olympian who had been known as Bruce Jenner, appeared as a woman for the first time on a wildly popular Vanity Fair cover in July, Halloween costume designers were off to the races. Weeks after the cover dropped, a parody of the 65-year-old’s cover look, complete with a white corset, wig and sash, went up for sale. Speaking with Matt Lauer of the “Today” show recently, Jenner was asked if she’s offended by the costume, which mimics her now-famous coming out ensemble, or if she’s in on the joke.
“I’m in on the joke. Yeah, no, I don’t think it’s offensive at all,” she says in the video below. “I know the community does, and [the costume company has] gotten a lot of criticism for doing it. I think it’s great, to be honest with you. I think it’s great. Except they could have a better-looking outfit for her.”
While the reality star seems fine with her new persona being roasted a little this Halloween season, she acknowledged that the transgender community doesn’t seem to be laughing the situation off. According to CNN, the costume idea was met with almost immediate disdain from members of the transgender community, arguing that it reduces Jenner, who has become an unofficial symbol for the growing transgender awareness movement, to a cheap caricature.
— NEWS10 ABC (@WTEN) August 28, 2015
“To make a costume out of a marginalized identity reduces that person and community to a stereotype for privileged people to abuse,” reads a Change.org petition directed at the nationally popular Spirit Halloween chain, which is one of the more popular retailers selling a Jenner costume. “In this case, if you follow through with production of a Caitlyn Jenner costume, cisgender people will purchase it to make fun of her and our community.”
As previously reported, the chain seems to have no intention of removing the Caitlyn Jenner costume from its shelves. In response to the backlash, the Spirit Halloween store tweeted a statement on the matter:
@vangoghgoth At Spirit Halloween, we sell many costumes for celebrities, heroes and superheroes, and Caitlyn Jenner is all of these.
— Spirit Halloween (@SpiritHalloween) August 31, 2015
This sentiment was later echoed by the chain’s PR and marketing head, Trisha Lombardo, in an interview with New York Daily News.
“Caitlyn Jenner has proven to be the most important real-life superhero of the year, and Spirit Halloween is proud to carry the costume that celebrates her.”
Unfortunately for those that take issue with the costume, it seems that the backlash has only increased sales. According to USA Today, the publicity surrounding the Halloween outfit prompted the chain to make the costume available online more than a month before planned. The costume is avialable to purchase both online and in one of the chain's 1,100 store locations in the United States and Canada. The "Caitlyn Corset Set" is avialable for $49.99 online in adult sizes medium through XXL. If customers so choose, the wig for the costume can be purchased separately for just $16.99.