It has been exactly one year since Yandy, your go-to retailer for Sexy Halloween Costumes, pulled its horny take on The Handmaid’s Tale from the market. (Time sure flies when it’s a flat circle.) The “Brave Red Maiden” getup encouraged wearers to “be bold and speak your mind,” even those of them who inhabited an “upsetting dystopian future … where women no longer have a say.” Just slip into your red mini dress, grab your aggressively ventilated cloak and your Hot Bonnet, the sales pitch whispered, seductively — Aunt Lydia be damned! Consumers, however, were not seduced: Many read the costume as “a symbol of women’s oppression, rather than an expression of women’s empowerment,” as Yandy observed in its apology statement.
For all the offense taken, Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale, seemed mostly unruffled. Promoting her new book, The Testaments, on Late Night With Seth Meyers last week, Atwood laughed off the Brave Red Maiden as “sort of the ‘French maid with the duster’ version” of her story, calmly agreeing with Meyers that Yandy had “sort of missed the point.” When the host asked her if it frustrated her, to see someone skew the message of her work so badly, she replied, stone-faced: “I have. A sense. Of humor.” Punctuation absolutely necessary.