Dressing up this Halloween? Skip the sexy nurse costume, says Quebec nursing order
Order says the stereotype has real impacts on professional women
Oct. 31 is just around the corner, but there's one costume Quebec's order of nurses says is just too creepy for Halloween.
A new social media campaign is asking customers not to buy into the sexy nurse costume and stereotype, saying it hurts the perception of the widely female-dominated profession.
The campaign was launched by Quebec's professional order of nurses (known by its French acronym, the OIIQ). In a video posted online Monday, the order asks Halloween revellers to consider dressing up as a real nurse — complete with scrubs and a mask.
"Nurses take care of everyone," the video says, "so let's take care of their image."
Luc Mathieu, the president of the OIIQ, said they're using Halloween as an occasion to talk about how nurses are often depicted in popular culture.
"Sexualizing nurse uniforms perpetuates sexist and degrading stereotypes and fantasies about nurses' profession and expertise," Mathieu told CBC.
Real-life impact on nurses
Natalie Stake-Doucet, a registered nurse and the president of the Quebec Nurses' Association, said she's seen the impact of the cliché first-hand.
"I've been a nurse for 12 years. I've seen pretty much everything you can think of," she said. "The things we've been subjected to from patients, friends, family... we often get stuff like, 'oh you're a nurse, that means you're a nymphomaniac' or something like that."
"But we're all educated and trained to take care of people in professional ways."
Stake-Doucet said sexy costumes in general aren't the problem — if someone wants to wear a costume that shows more skin, that's fine, she said.
"[This is about] how nurses are marketed as a Halloween costume," she said. "Anybody can dress how they want … but it's about marketing a profession as hypersexualized."
Giselle Wilson, a nurse at the Royal Victoria Hospital, agreed that nurses need to be seen as professionals, especially coming out of the pandemic.
But she said she's thinking more about institutional problems, especially after the provincial election, where health care often took a backseat to other issues.
"If you want to dress as a nurse — whether it's a sexy nurse, or an actual, in scrubs nurse … we don't need to be offended by it," she said. "I personally am not."
"Halloween isn't serious. It's a fun event. It's meant for people to enjoy themselves."
With files from Sharon Yonan-Renold and CBC's Daybreak
To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.
By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.
Become a CBC Account Holder
Join the conversation Create account
Already have an account?