This Is How You Can Make Your Halloween Costume A Protest, Since 2017 Is A Mess

by Hannah Golden
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

The year isn't over yet, but 2017 has already been a giant disaster salad, literally and figuratively. The time is nigh to make this year's Halloween a statement, or at the very least, celebrate the fact that the end of 2017 is finally in sight. Whether you go your own way or want to try one of these activist-inspired political Halloween costume ideas, we've got you covered.

What is a protest costume?

A protest costume makes a statement about society, politics, social issues — really, anything you'd show up and protest about. The idea is to engage others in dialogue, express your views, and make people think about an issue in a new way.

A few tips. For a costume that people actually understand, keep it straightforward and clever. Think pop culture and public figures, inverted stereotypes, and puns. Use universal icons and visuals like pins, badges, or signs to make it obvious. Opt for an easy-to-identify person or object and build from there.

Here are a few dynamite ideas to get you started well before Oct. 31 (you'll need the time for some of these handmade ensembles).

Wonder Woman & The Lasso of Truth

If classic comic book heroines are your inspiration, now's a great time to go as Diana. Incidentally, because facts have been relegated to an alternate universe — shoutout to Kellyanne Conway — the Lasso of Truth is especially relevant this year (Spirit Halloween, $20).

You can get a Wonder Woman outfit online or in-person (Target, $45 | Spirit Halloween, $50).

Spirit Halloween

NASA Astronaut Or Engineer

Bummed about the president's budget cuts to the NASA program? Celebrate the folks who brought you Apollo by dressing up as an astronaut. Bonus points for referencing women in STEM.

Check out this astronaut's jumpsuit online (Halloween Costumes, $35).


Wear your fragility with pride by cutting out a white poster board in the shape of a snowflake and taping it onto a white shirt. (Stencil recommended!) If you're really feeling like dressing up, splurge on these amazing snowflake fairy wings (Amazon, $12), headband (Amazon, $6), and glasses (Amazon, $10).

Morris Costumes/Amazon


Women's rights will never be out of style. Whether you're a proud woman voter or just a general fan of the 19th Amendment, here's a winner. Buy a period-piece dress like this one (Spirit Halloween, $40) or simply throw together a puffy white blouse and full-length skirt with a frilly slip and a ribboned hat. The most important is the Votes for Women sash. Scoop up one of these bad boys online (Etsy, $30) or make your own.


Birth Control

In protest of, well, generally everything this year that's threatened women's reproductive health care, dress up as birth control pills. One woman used her oral contraceptives costume in a burlesque show, below. (You can't make this stuff up.)

This one requires a bit of work, but it won't break the bank. From the craft or store, get some cardboard or poster board (Staples has them for cheap -- any color will do), colored sponges or pieces of paper to cut into circles, and *lots* of glue.


If oral contraception seems a bit too out there, the Handmaid's Tale costume might be the one for you. Make or buy the iconic Offred outfit online (Etsy, $60, Oasis Costume, $69).

Leslie Knope

Who better to channel than the legendary Leslie Knope from Parks And Recreation? Unleash your inner Girl Scout/bff/public servant/feminist with this costume. Pair a pantsuit with a blond wig and a button (Etsy, $2.50). Here's a full step-by-step on how to piece it together.


Trump's Contradictory Tweets

God bless President Flip Flops, the company that had the brilliant idea of putting Trump's tweets on a pair of slides. Add these to your Donald Trump costume and you've got a winner. (President Flip Flops, $28).

President Flip Flops

Fake News

In the mood to be both deeply upsetting and alluring at the same time? Be our guest and drop $55 on a sexy Fake News dress — because that's a thing that now exists.

If co-opting First Amendment threats for the sake of sexiness isn't your cup of tea, you can always fashion your own version of the same core principle. Simply pick up a copy of a reputable newspaper — the New York Times or Washington Post will work — and write the word "FAKE!" across it in large letters. String it around your neck and ta-da! That's about as low-cost and protest-y as a costume gets.


Statue Of Liberty

In April, activists dressed as the Statue of Liberty at a protest for Trump's visit to London make a statement about his travel ban. Follow in their copper footsteps with this outfit (Target, $17), or make your own if you're feeling proudly independent.



Bummed about the cuts to national parks? Be loud and proud like these protestors and dress up as a t-rex. For obvious reasons, the inflatable ones are the best (Amazon, $51).


Have another authority-defying, rule-breaking idea?

That's the spirit! Just to make sure we're all conscious costumers, here's what to think about if you decide to go rogue with your costume.

Think about who your costume might affect. Your costume will inevitably make someone uncomfortable. (Isn't that kind of the point?) If your costume challenges racism in an interesting and creative way, and White Dude From Economics Class doesn't get it, it's not the end of the world; but if your costume is offensive to those who already face marginalization and inequality, that's not helping anyone.

Don't trample on other cultures, religions, expressions of self, etc. You don't need to appropriate to make a statement. Not sure what that means? This sampling of horrifying appropriative costumes will give you an idea.

Don't use others' tragedies to make jokes. Dressing as Hurricane Irma will come off as insensitive when people died and lost their homes; so will dressing as a cancer patient to protest the health care bill.

Don't cross the line. Even if you dress up as a certain White House misogynist, even in jest, it is not okay to mimic that. We get that your intentions are usually good. But whether for shock value or to emphasize your costume, simply "playing the part" is not an excuse. See this horror of a cocktail as an example of why some jokes are just not okay.

Do educate yourself on the issue and be ready for reactions. As I mentioned, the whole point of a protest costume is to send a message. Whether it's a drunk person at a bar or your Aunt Jeanne who saw photos on Facebook, someone's bound to ask about it. Be prepared to face a spectrum of reactions. As with any protest, a costume invites give-and-take conversation. Be ready to explain and educate, and be open to criticism or feedback, especially from anyone who has a stake in what your costume symbolizes.

Happy costuming!