In September 2018, online retailer Yandy listed a “Brave Red Maiden” Halloween costume for sale on their website, described as representing a time in which “An upsetting dystopian future has emerged where women no longer have a say” but nonetheless, “we say be bold and speak your mind in this exclusive Brave Red Maiden costume.”
The $64.95 costume was an obvious reference to the garb worn by women in the Handmaid’s Tale novel by Margaret Atwood and current Hulu television series — works featuring a “fundamentalist regime that treats women as property of the state” and in which “the few remaining fertile women are forced into sexual servitude.”
The seemingly tone-deaf costume offering left some viewers pondering whether it was the product of “idiocy” or “satire,” while others derisively described it as depicting a “sexy rape victim”:
— dontwasteyourpretty (@wastedprettypod) September 20, 2018
In response to the flood of crticism, Yandy took down the listing for the costume from their website and replaced it with a notice stating the putative reasons behind its creation and removal:
Yandy always has stood, and will continue to stand, at the forefront of encouraging our customers to “Own Your Sexy”. We support our customers being comfortable in their skin, regardless of who they are or what they choose to wear. Our corporate ideology is rooted in female empowerment, and gender empowerment overall.
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. This is unfortunate, as it was not our intention on any level. Our initial inspiration to create the piece was through witnessing its use in recent months as a powerful protest image.
Given the sincere, heartfelt response, supported by numerous personal stories we’ve received, we are removing the costume from our site.
Many viewers nonetheless remained credulous of Yancy’s non-apology and the notion that the costume was truly intended to represent an “expression of women’s empowerment” rather than “a symbol of women’s oppression.”