TIME society

Inside the Weird World of Sexy Halloween Costumes for Dogs

And you thought sexy human costumes were strange

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Ye olde “hot” dog costume Getty images

The era of a “hot” dog costume consisting of a dachshund wrapped up in a bun is over. Welcome to an age in which people dress up their pets in sexy Halloween costumes.

For Pumpkin, a Labradoodle, his risqué 2013 ensemble came complete with fake human cleavage.

Pumpkin the dog flaunting his sexy Snooki Halloween costume Michelle Husserl

A Snooki costume might seem blasé for a person, but the tightly fitted leopard print top secured Pumpkin the first place prize for “most creative costume” at a local London pub, according to owner Michelle Husserl. “I didn’t think about it being sexy, more funny if anything, but I guess sexy costumes [for dogs] are the way forward!” she says. “He’s used to being dressed up since he was a puppy, but the cleavage he kept clawing at. He was very confused about it.”

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend $350 million on their pets’ Halloween costumes in 2014, which is up from $220 million in 2010. Unfortunately the NRF doesn’t calculate how many of those pet costumes show a little extra leg.

“I don’ think we have any plans to go that specific,” says NRF senior director Kathy Grannis. “I’ll be honest, I had no idea that that existed in this world. I was shocked.”

But, as Grannis notes, there is a person-to-pet consumer trickle-down effect, providing pups with blueberry facials and other human-only luxuries. So, considering the sexy Halloween costume complex has mostly jumped the shark — there are actual sexy shark, crustacean and even whale costumes — maybe it was only a matter of time until dogs got their sexy Halloween costumes, too.

“[Our sexy] pet costumes are just an extension of what the consumer was already doing on social networks, we saw that gap, and we jumped on it,” says Alicia Brockwell of California Costume, the manufacturer of Pumpkin the Labradoodle’s Snooki outfit.

“The costume is actually called ‘The Lady is a Tramp,’ and people really love putting that on a pitbull,” she says. “One thing about the sexy costumes, is that people love putting them on the most rugged, tough dogs.”

Dog Costumes
“Pop Queen” California Costumes

California Costume’s Pup-A-Razzi line has other sexy offerings, including a gold-cone bra called the”Pop Queen” (just think Madonna) and a “Silver Screen Siren” (Marilyn Monroe).

“It’s no secret that sex sells and Hollywood is the capital of plastic surgery so it made sense to include those features where we could,” vice president of marketing and design Christopher Guzman says. “Why not give your pet what he or she has secretly been craving, at least temporarily, fake boobies!”

Costumes that feature fake cleavage come in four different sizes, ranging from extra small to large.

“The hardest part about the breastplate is maintaining the integrity of it when shipping,” Brockewell says. “So we have little tutorials and give product training where if you take a warm hairdryer, it can actually warm it up and get it to the right roundness and buoyancy as needed. Because it is a soft material so it can sit comfortably on the dog.”

Brockwell believes that the company manages to be ridiculous without crossing the line to insulting: “No one looks at it and says ‘oh I can’t believe you’re degrading this dog’s honor!'”

Grannis, of the National Retail Federation, agrees.

“Halloween is a holiday based on discretionary fun,” she says. “If there are a lot of creative people out there who think that Fido and Fluffy would look great as a sexy maid, you know, God bless ‘em for it.”

And they do:

Even Walmart stocks French Maid costumes for dogs.

Garrett Rosso, founder of New York City’s 24-year-old Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade, has seen the full evolution of the sexy dog costume. The 1990’s were a simpler time. “It was all about the three M’s: Marilyn, Marlene and Madonna — oh and maybe a Chip ‘n Dale,” he says. In the last decade, however, people have upped their game.

“We had a bull dog dressed up as Katy Perry with boobs and a wig — it was a little startling,” says Rosso, who was a TIME design director before opening dog obedience training facilities. “Last year, I saw a Great Dane as Lady Gaga doing the twerking dance and a whole convention of 50 Shades of Grey.”

Matching owner/pet companion costumes are a big hit. He has seen dressed dogs in thousands of dollars worth of leather clothing, made to match their owner.

“Dogs have kind of become our giant companions, our best friends, our entrée into a healthier lifestyle,” Rosso says. “And I think Halloween is just a day when you can show off your best friend.”

And who doesn’t love a best friend who knows how to show some leg? All four of them.

Read next: 2014 Could Be the Year of the ‘Sexy Lobster’ Halloween Costume

TIME Food & Drink

Fill Your Life With Whimsy and Wonder By Turning Your Ice Maker Into a Candy Dispenser

Little did you know you were living an unfulfilled life

Think about your life. Happy? Fulfilled? Just imagine how much better things would be if candy came out of your ice maker.

Reddit user Deric Peace shared his brilliant frozen candy dispenser with the world — and for that we must say thank you. Because there’s something magical about the idea of candy streaming from your refrigerator — both for lifestyle and for pranks. Oh, just think of the pranks.

Although we must ask, would the gross factor having unwrapped candy sit in your ice box outweigh the wonderful factor of being able to place your bowl of ice cream under the dispenser and press a simple button for toppings?

TIME Outer Space

Look Up: There’s a Rare Partial Solar Eclipse Thursday

Sudan Solar Eclipse
A partial solar eclipse is seen over the Sudanese capital Khartoum on November 3, 2013. Anadolu Agency—Getty Images

Here's when to look up at the sky

As long as rainclouds aren’t obstructing the view, people across the United States will be able to look up Thursday afternoon to witness the moon cover part of the sun in a rare partial solar eclipse.

According to Weather.com, nearly all of North America, barring part of Canada and New England, will be able to see the display. Sky and Telescope has a list of when the eclipse will be visible in different major cities. The partial solar eclipse will be viewable in New York beginning at 5:49 p.m. and peaking at 6:03, though skywatchers on the west coast will get the best show — the eclipse begins in Los Angeles at 2:08 p.m. and hit its peak midway point at 3:28 p.m. local time.

Here’s a map that tracks eclipse visibility:

While there will be another partial solar eclipse Aug. 21, 2017, Business Insider reports there won’t be another that is visible to the entire country until 2023. So maybe step outside — but take precautions.

“Looking directly at the Sun is harmful to your eyes at any time, partial eclipse or no,” says Sky and Telescope’s Alan MacRobert. “The only reason a partial eclipse is dangerous is that it prompts people to gaze at the Sun, something they wouldn’t normally do. The result can be temporary or permanent blurred vision or blind spots at the center of your view.”

[Sky and Telescope]

TIME Style

The Bizarre History of Women’s Clothing Sizes

"All dresses shall consist only of cloth sufficient for the body basic and the trimming allowance. The trimming allowance for non-transparent materials shall be limited to 700 square inches for all sizes, in excess of that required for the basic," reads WPB (War Production Board) order L-85 as amended Library of Congress

A look back at the start of arbitrary sizing

In the world of women’s clothing, a 4 is a 2 is a 6. Everything is relative — unless, of course, you’re shopping in Brandy Melville’s teen-“friendly” SoHo store, where the only size is small. (“One-size” reads labels that don’t even bother with the usual “fits all” addendum.)

One of the most infuriating American pastimes occurs within the confines of a dressing room. But where do these seemingly arbitrary sizes come from? Sit down, unbutton your pants and enjoy a condensed briefing on women’s clothing measurements:

“True sizing standards didn’t develop until the 1940’s,” says Lynn Boorady, fashion and textile technology chair and associate professor at Buffalo State University. “Before then sizes for young ladies and children were all based on age — so a size 16 would be for a 16-year-old — and for women it was about bust measurement.”

Suffice it to say, assuming all 13-year-old girls and 36-in.-bust women were created equal proved problematic. “Mostly it was assumed that the women in the house would know how to sew,” Boorady says.

But consumers — and the booming catalog industry, which proliferated as Americans moved to more rural areas — were ready for change. In a 1939 article titled “No Boondoggling,” TIME explored the Department of Agriculture’s effort to standardize women’s clothes, an effort that had been inspired by the fact that U.S. manufacturers guessed it was costing them $10 million a year not to have set sizes. “Each subject — matron, maid, scrubwoman, show girl — will be [measured] in 59 different places,” the article read.

The data of 15,000 women was collected by Ruth O’Brien and William Shelton, and while the project was impressive — “especially considering they didn’t have computers to analyze the data,” Boorady says — it didn’t exactly solve the problem.

“It was flawed for many reasons,” agrees Parsons School of Fashion professor Beth Dincuff Charleston. “They didn’t really get a cross-section of American women… It was smaller than what the national average should be.”

Since the survey was done on a volunteer basis, it was largely made up of women of a lower socioeconomic status who needed the participation fee. It was also primarily white women. And the measurements still primarily relied on bust size, assuming women had an hourglass figure.

Then in the late 1940s, the Mail-Order Association of America, representing catalog businesses including Sears Roebuck, enlisted the help of the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology) to reanalyze the sizing — often using the measurements of women who had served in the air force, some of the most fit people in the country — creating a 1958 standard that was largely arbitrary. Sizes ranged from 8 to 38 with height indications of tall (T), regular (R), and short (S), and a plus or minus sign when referring to girth.

There was no size zero, let alone the triple zeroes that sometimes are displayed in stores today.

As American girth increased, so did egos. And thus began the practice of vanity sizing. Over the decades, government size guidelines were heeded less and less, items of clothing began getting marked with lower numbers and eventually, in 1983, the Department of Commerce withdrew its commercial women’s clothing size standard altogether. A private organization called ASTM International began publishing its own sizing tables in 1995.

According to Slate:

In 1958, for example, a size 8 corresponded with a bust of 31 inches, a waist of 23.5 inches and a hip girth of 32.5 inches. In ASTM’s 2008 standards, a size 8 had increased by five to six inches in each of those three measurements, becoming the rough equivalent of a size 14 or 16 in 1958. We can see size inflation happening over shorter time spans as well; a size 2 in the 2011 ASTM standard falls between a 1995 standard size 4 and 6.

That means that ideals are changing too, Boorady adds: “We went from size 16 being a model in the ’40s to 12 in the ’60s. Marilyn Monroe was a 12 in the ’60s, which would now be a size 6.”

Now, stores often size based on their own preferences, which can make for frustrating online shopping experiences — modern-day catalog browsing — unless you already know your exact size.

But are we doomed to a future of sizing confusion? Maybe not. Parsons’ Dincuff Charleston notes that new technologies might be welcoming a new era of customized clothing. “Body measurements are so advanced now — with 3-D scanning, digital changing rooms — I think that people will have options for better fitting clothing,” she says. “And with 3-D printers, maybe you’ll be printing your own clothing.”

Read next: 6 Items You Should Wear To Achieve World Domination

TIME relationships

Woman Spends Entire Week In KFC After Getting Dumped By Her Boyfriend

Col Harland Sanders founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken
Col. Harland Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken. John Olson—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty

"I just wanted some chicken wings."

After getting dumped by her boyfriend, a woman in China realized that only one person could help her in her time of need: Colonel Sanders.

Tan Shen, 26, accidentally on-purpose spent a full week at a 24/7 KFC in Chengdu, calling in sick to work, to mourn the loss of her relationship.

“I hadn’t planned on staying there long, I just wanted some chicken wings,” Tan told Yahoo. “But once I got in there and started eating I decided I needed time to think.”

But is KFC really where you’d want to spend your time of mourning? Are the chicken wings really that good?

After all, Tan herself admits that after a week, “I was getting sick of the taste of chicken, so there was no point in staying there anymore.” (That and local media started showing up to take photos).

Here are some places that might have been better week-long hideaways:

McDonald’s
Find a Play Place and start enjoying the little things in life again.

Walmart
If it’s good enough for a 9-month pregnant woman, as depicted in Where The Heart Is, it should be good enough for the lovesick.

Anthropologie
Just so aesthetically pleasing.

A make-your-own, pay-by-the-pound Fro-Yo shop
Because… cliches.

Maybe then Tan would have looked slightly more upbeat:

TIME

Here Are The Strange Things Dudes Are Asking on Lulu’s New Messaging Service

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Getty Images

The once women-only app is doing some serious male outreach

Lulu — an app that allows women to rate men as if they were consumer goods, including hashtags ranging from the good (#SelfMadeMan) to the gross (#PornEducated) — has now opened up the lines of communication between female and male users. After three weeks of beta testing, the two-year-old app launched its Truth Bombs feature Wednesday, which allows men to anonymously ask women questions. This feedback just might be what they need to raise their Yelp-like score.

“This is the first time we are doing any messaging,” said Lulu co-founder Alison Schwartz. “How it works is guys can ask an anonymous question or test out a theory they want to test out with women, some sort of query, and then they get instant feedback from millions of girls.”

The new feature pointedly marks the evolving relationship Lulu has with its million-plus male users. When the app launched in Feb. 2013, it was advertised as a secret, ladies-only space to swap information about former male relations. Bros stole glances at female friends’ phones and attempted hacks to see how they were doing. After a slew of Internet backlash (and anti-Lulu petitions) deriding the app for inciting bullying and gender-based double standards, Lulu made the experience more male-friendly in 2014 by having a policy where men had to opt-in and give their full permission to be reviewed. In May, the male-outreach went a step further and Lulu allowed men to check their scores, giving them tips and affirmations. (“Girls love your kissing.”)

And now, men can go straight to the source and ask women questions. But what have the men been asking? During the beta test, these were the most popular questions verbatim (there are some pretty bad typos), some of which led to 2,500 responses, although most questions average 15 replies:

  1. How many guys have you slept with and how old are you… GO !
  2. What age did you loose your virginity?
  3. Do women like abs or arms more?
  4. How frequently do girls masterbate?
  5. Do girls find it attractive if a guy claims p***y is being thrown at him left and right?

Um, woah. Some of these misspelled questions about “loosing” virginity (“Freudian slip?” asked Scwhartz) are just the type of sophomoric musings you’d expect from a dude who gets to anonymously crowdsource information from anonymous women. But when asked how the women were responding to the questions, Schwartz said, “They are meaningfully answering what the guys are asking about. They are trying to be really helpful.”

And there are moderation protocols — “we have designed a product against bullying,” said Scwhartz — to keep things clean, relatively. Although of the 60,000 Truth Bombs that were asked during the three week beta test, averaging some 100 Truth Bombs an hour, only 800 were flagged.

For now, the messaging option is all anonymous and each thread is limited to one guy (the one who posed the question) and millions of female users. Although other men can view the threads, they can’t participate in the conversation.

“But we see on the app that there’s interested in moving to a one girl one guy dynamic,” said Schwartz. Could the next step in Lulu be one-on-one communication, perhaps enabling dating? “Anything is possible, but we would do that in a way that this is very true to Lulu.”

See Also:

This Map Shows What Guys Are Like in Each Major City

Rate The Date Online: Lulu App Lets Women Review Hookups

TIME feminism

Annie Lennox: ‘Twerking Is Not Feminism’

2013 MTV Video Music Awards - Show
Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus perform during the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards Kevin Mazur—2013 Kevin Mazur

The artist explained why she doesn't subscribe to Beyoncé's brand of feminism

After making headlines for asserting that Beyoncé represents feminism “light” last month, singer Annie Lennox expanded on that during an interview with NPR published Tuesday to promote her new album Nostalgia.

“Listen,” Lennox told Steve Inskeep, “Twerking is not feminism. Thats what I’m referring to. It’s not, it’s not liberating, it’s not empowering. It’s a sexual thing that you’re doing on a stage; it doesn’t empower you. That’s my feeling about it.”

Lennox clarified that her comment about “feminist light” figures weren’t directed specifically towards Beyoncé, but rather all sexualized female performers.

“The reason why I’ve commented is because I think that this overt sexuality thrust, literally, at particular audiences, when very often performers have a very, very young audience, like seven years [old], I find it disturbing and I think its exploitative, and it’s troubling,” she said. “I’m coming from a perspective of a woman that’s had children.”

You can listen to the whole interview below:

TIME viral

New York Subway Performers Rally for Arrested Musician

The video has almost been viewed 500,000 times

Buskers in New York City planned a demonstration Tuesday on behalf of a fellow subway performer whose arrest for serenading commuters was recorded by protesting bystanders and turned into a viral video, the AP reports.

Adam Kalleen was arrested in an underground station in Brooklyn Friday after he refused a police offer’s request to put down the guitar and go. While the officer said that the 30-year-old needed permission to play, Kalleen and on-lookers said that the MTA does not issue permits.

The video, which has been viewed almost half a million times on YouTube, shows people protesting Kalleen’s arrest for loitering. “You don’t have something better to do? There are people breaking real laws,” someone shouts.

The fedora-wearing busker can be seen singing Neil Young’s “Ohio,” a song written in 1970 by Neil Young about the Kent State shootings, to the chants “F*** the police” from the crowd.

The MTA guidelines state that “artistic performances, including the acceptance of donations” are permitted, although that does appear to conflict with state law that prohibits subway station loitering “for the purpose of soliciting or engaging in business.” Busker advocacy organizations exist to fight for street performers’ rights.

An NYPD spokesperson told the AP that the department is looking into the arrest.

[AP]

TIME Rwanda

Rwanda Now Screening Travelers From The U.S. And Spain for Ebola

A New Jersey elementary school recently barred entry to two transfer students from the Ebola-free country

As mass panic over Ebola sweeps over the globe, resulting in widespread stigmatization of travelers to and from Africa, one Ebola-free East African nation is stepping up its precautionary approach toward people traveling to or from America and Europe.

Rwanda Tuesday began screening people who have been in the U.S. or Spain in the last two weeks. A handful of patients have been diagnosed with Ebola in both countries. Rwanda is already denying entry to visitors who have been in Guinea, Liberia, Senegal, or Sierra Leone in the last 22 days.

Coincidence or not, Rwanda’s new policy clips on the heels of a New Jersey elementary school that barred entry to two transfer students from Rwanda, even though the country is 2,600 miles from the closest Ebola-afflicted country.

Rwanda’s protocol is laid out on the U.S. Embassy’s website.

TIME apps

Tinder Thinks You’ll Pay to Find a Match. Swipe Right?

Does this mean there will be less bathroom mirror selfies?

Money can’t buy love, but it might be able to buy you a better Tinder date.

The free, location-based mobile dating app, which allows users to swipe right in hopes of finding a match and left to pass, will begin offering “a few premium features” come November, CEO and co-founder Sean Rad recently said at the Forbes Under 30 Summit.

Rad didn’t provide many details, Forbes reported from the event in Philadelphia, but said the new features are ones that “users have been begging us for” and “will offer so much value we think users are willing to pay for them.”

Does this mean less bathroom mirror selfies? Probably not. But Rad hinted that the pay-for-play features might focus on opening up location restrictions, allowing people to make connections while they’re traveling to new places. He also said the “premium” options will cater to areas outside of romance, like “local recommendations when traveling, trying to make friends, doing business.”

“Revenue has always been on the road map,” he added.

But don’t worry, you can still swipe for free while procrastinating at work: “The core offering will always remain free,” Rad said. “At least that’s the plan.”

Watch the full interview below:

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