As Big Bird experienced a wave of political importance in the past few weeks, a very skimpy women's costume version attracted attention. Especially when the finances of the Sesame Street Workshop are under some scrutiny, selling a sexualize version of a beloved children's character seemed not only distasteful but downright sleazy.
Except that Sesame Street has nothing to do with these costumes, and is trying to get them taken off the market.
Sarah Beth Erb from Seseame Street Workshop tells us, “our legal team has sent a cease and desist letter to the website selling them, will monitor the site, and follow up accordingly to make sure the items in question are removed.”
Sexxxy: Not official!
Companies like Sesame Street Workshop don’t actually manufacture their own merchandise, instead they sell the licensing rights to various manufacturers. Even then, merchandise still has to pass through brand assurance to get the ok. This means the brands get to protect their properties’ integrity, the kind of integrity that means that Sesame Street would never approve of a sexy lingerie version of its characters, just as you won't see an official licensed shirt of a Oscar the Grouch holding a gun.
Sesame Street does license costumes through a costume manufacturer called Disguise. The women's Big Bird costume is cutesy, but still modest enough not to be scandalous. Put it this way: your dad would actually let you leave the house in this.
Here’s the officially licensed Big Bird costume (a dress, tights, and headpiece):
Cute and modest: Official!
What Yandy.com has done is separate out the headpiece, which is officially licensed through Disguise, and pair it with a completely different - and much sexier – dress and tights.
This is a sneaky way to get around the licensing issue – pair the identifying accessory headpiece with a completely different and sexier dress than it’s intended for, but sell them separately. Of course, on the website, the two items are sold right next to each other. For the “sexy Bert & Ernie” costumes, the official mask (sold separately from the sexy overalls) is actually modeled by a man.
Yandy has several other sexy costumes that appear to be unlicensed - a dead giveaway is when they have a generic name. A costume clearly meant to be Minnie Mouse is called "Sexy Mouse", a Care Bear is called "Bear Costume", and Super Mario is called "Sexy Plumber".
Even though Sesame Street Workshop has issued the cease and desist, the costumes are still being sold on Yandy.com. It’s unclear how this will be resolved – whether Yandy’s trick of selling sexy outfits that look vaguely suggestive of a trademarked character and selling the licensed accessory separately – will work, or if Sesame Street’s case is strong enough to force them to stop selling before Halloween.
One thing IS clear: the nice people at Sesame Street do not want you wearing a slutty Bird Bird costume this year.