Bloggers Eye Skimpy Halloween Garb

Girl modelling in cat woman costume iStockphoto

Blogophile is written by CBSNews.com's Melissa P. McNamara.



With Halloween just a week away, bloggers are buzzing about this year's costume selection for women. Are risqué costumes a sign of independence or just plain demeaning? And, bloggers praise a public library's photo archive. Find out what's so cool about it. Plus, a young job applicant's resume goes viral ... and not in a good way. And have you seen Senator Clinton's new necklace?


Halloween Goes Extreme

With Halloween just a week away, the mad rush for the perfect costume is well underway. And this year, the costumes themselves seem to be drawing a great deal of attention, both in the mainstream media and online. Heck, even some sociologists have been weighing in.

The New York Times is especially concerned about the state of Halloween costumes for women. The newspaper published both an op-ed and an article about the latest trend for women: costumes that "are more strip club than storybook." The article was one of the most talked about on NYTimes.com, and many bloggers were buzzing about it.

As the newspaper explains, costumes of questionable taste will be barely covering thousands of women who consider them escapist, harmless fun on Halloween. Whereas when men dress up as police officers, firefighters and soldiers, "they actually look like people in those professions," those same costumes for women are "so tight and low-cut they are better suited for popping out of a cake than outlasting an emergency," the newspaper explains.

A sociologist quoted in the New York Times piece believes that many women think that showing off their bodies "is a mark of independence and security and confidence."

But not all bloggers are buying this. "For the record, my daughter will be a princess this year," Jonah Goldberg writes in the National Standard's The Corner. "Last year she was a cowgirl. In the future she wants to be a 'doggy-doctor,' a cowgirl again, and a witch. She has plenty of ideas on the subject and feminism hasn't entered into any of them as yet."

Goldberg isn't alone. Other bloggers question whether there's really any big sociological issue at stake. A blogger at Bitin' the Big Apple says she was hardly thumbing her nose at "the patriarchical notions that have disparaged witches since the beginning of time" when she dressed as a scantily clad witch. "Au contraire. I was hoping the guys would dig me. And some whacked-out cultural messages put the notion in my head that sexing it up was the way to do that," she writes.

Yet, an article in the Arizona Republic notes that even costumes for children are growing more trashy these days. The newspaper reports that costumes marketed to children and teens are undoubtedly more suggestive, with names like "Transylvania Temptress," "Handy Candy," "Major Flirt," and "Red Velvet Devil Bride."

Some long for the good ol' days when a simple mask was well-suited for trick-or-treating. "Grown-up halloween is so lame. I just want to get a k-mart plastic monster mask and sprint door-to-door in an effort to fill a pillowcase with candy, like the holiday was intended to be celebrated," Brian Longtin writes at Two Points Collapsing.

Plus, whatever happened to creativity, Johanna at Comics Worth Reading asks. "The only place I have to wear a costume is work, anyway, and that puts a restriction on choices to what's considered "appropriate," she blogs. "Instead of purchasing something, whatever happened to ideas and creativity being the most important costume elements?"

And if you thought we were the only ones facing Halloween costume decisions, Yahoo's Buzz Index suggests pets will also be dressing up for the occasion. Pets rank fourth in queries for costume ideas, behind babies, adults and kids. This year's favorite dog costume? Yoda. Don't ask.


Library Images Go High-Tech

The Internet continues to change how we view things in both subtle and, sometimes, literal ways. The Los Angeles Public Library's Web site is proof of the latter.

For years, the library's photography curator and her team catalogued historical images of Los Angeles in relative obscurity. The nearly 3 million photos remained in the back rooms of the public library, and few had access to them since they were stored in cabinets in the library's dusty archives. Many didn't even know the photos existed. But, as the Los Angeles Times reports, the Internet has changed all that, fostering a digital archive of photos that has become one of the city's most popular sites. The site receives about 550,000 page views a month.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, the L.A. library has become one of the first in the U.S. to post portions of its vast collection — mostly historical L.A. photos — online, and mostly for free access. The Web site has become a historical treasure trove for those interested in the city's past, and perhaps offers a model that other cities could replicate.

The Web site's popularity has transformed the curator and her staff into historical decision-makers, since they must carefully choose images to add to the database. Today, that database includes about 70,000 photographs and it's growing by 250 to 300 images a week.

The site is winning rave reviews from bloggers. A blogger at Montecito Heights, Above The City calls it an "insanely cool collection of photographs," and especially enjoys the photos of the railway up to Mt. Washington way back in the early 1900s.

The library's Ansel Adams photos also draw many fans. The collection features 189 photos by the famous photographer, which were shot in Los Angeles around 1940. Thanks to the library's Web site, they've been rediscovered by many online, though they've been a part of the library's collection since the 1960s. Curbed says the "Ansel eye candy" includes "rarely scene photos from Adams of LA during war time showing everyday life in the City for a spread in an issue of Fortune magazine from 1941."

Bloggers say these photos are helping them better understand Los Angeles history. "This resource is one of the best ways we can reach our past in this City, and without the work Carolyn (the curator) and the library does on our behalf, we wouldn't have the understanding (as limited as it is) of where we came from and where we're going," a California blogger writes on Livejournal, echoing the opinion of many.
  • Melissa McNamara

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