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This “sexy” Handmaid’s Tale costume has sparked fury on social media

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Kayleigh Dray
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The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale is dark, but this inappropriate Halloween costume is even darker.

The Handmaid’s Tale is, without question, one of the darkest and most brutal shows to ever grace our televisions.

Based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel of the same name, the show (in which Elisabeth Moss plays titular ‘handmaid’, Offred) takes place in Gilead, a near-future version of North America in which the Constitution has been overthrown. As a result of this, women’s rights and identities have been stripped away, with fertile women being rounded up, red tagged, and forced into a life of sexual servitude and surrogacy. They are held down by their mistresses each month and raped by their ‘Commanders’. They are tortured, physically and emotionally. They see parts of their bodies cut away from them if they ever break the rules – even if the rule is something as simple as, say, speaking out of turn.

Worse still? The show is based on real-life events – because, as Atwood has pointed out time and time again, every aspect of Gilead’s culture has really happened at some point in history, somewhere in the world.

“When it first came out it was viewed as being far-fetched,” she said recently. “However, when I wrote it I was making sure I wasn’t putting anything into it that humans had not already done somewhere at some time.”

What a truly horrifying thought, eh? With that in mind, it makes complete sense that a fancy dress company decided to take all of that as inspiration for a “sexy” Halloween costume.

Check it out:

May the Lord f**king reign fire down upon these misogynist idiots, eh?

The ‘Brave Red Maiden’ costume, which includes a red cape, mini dress and white bonnet of the Handmaids’ uniform, was listed on the website of online retailer for $65.

“An upsetting dystopian future has emerged where women no longer have a say,” the description reads. “However, we say be bold and speak your mind in this exclusive Brave Red Maiden costume. Pantyhose not included.”

Right.

Understandably, the Halloween costume instantly sparked outraged across social media.

“Our society doesn’t take the rape of real women seriously, why should they take the rape of fictional women seriously?” wrote one.

Another added: “Nothing like a sexy rape victim for Halloween fun.”

Yandy has since responded to the brewing controversy by removing the listing from its site, and issued an apology in place of the original link to the costume.

“Over the last few hours, it has become obvious that our Yandy Brave Red Maiden Costume is being seen as a symbol of women’s oppression, rather than an expression of women’s empowerment,” the clothing retailer said.

“This is unfortunate, as it was not our intention on any level.”

The statement continued: “Given the sincere, heartfelt response, supported by numerous personal stories we’ve received, we are removing the costume from our site.”

Earlier this year, Stylist spoke to Ane Crabtree, who designs the costumes for The Handmaid’s Tale.

When we mentioned that her designs have now become a symbol of real resistance, with women wearing copies of the handmaids’ habits to protests, demonstrations and rallies, she insisted that she cannot take responsibility for that. 

“The design isn’t mine, it’s based on an amazing novel that inspired me as a young girl and now people are riffing off the costume that inspired them in a show,” she told us. 

“But I love that this oppressive design is empowering women now. As someone who is deeply involved in these feminist movements, I can only say that is absolute pure beauty.”

Hmm. We wonder what she would have to say about the Yandy take on her iconic design, eh?

Image: Hulu/Channel 4

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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