It happens every year on November 1st. No fail. With fresh Tootsie Rolls stuck in their pearly whites, my kids start planning their costumes for the next year.
So, you can imagine their excitement 11 months later when the costume catalogs start arriving. What joy! Should they go the scary route and be a vampire or evil villain? Or, perhaps something more playful, like a clown or a cat?
Cat you say? Of course . . . let's take a look at some options in the costume catalog.
Ah, here we are.
"Sweetie, would you like to be this slutty kitty or this slutty kitty? Or, if you don’t want to go the cat route, might I suggest a trampy Girl Scout? "
Have you looked through these catalogs, stores or online sites? Holy cow! Who are these people who think these sexy outfits are OK for little girls, tweens and teens?
Do you freak show, irresponsible costume marketers feel good about dressing America's youth like prostitutes? A responsible marketer would NOT sell fishnet pantyhose, low-cut shirts, high heels or miniskirts to a child, nor pose them in their ads as if they came off the pages of an adult fashion magazine.
Of course most will argue that ultimately it’s the parent’s responsibility and their kids don’t have to wear costumes like that.
If you don’t want your kid dressed like that, don’t let them. Agreed. End of story. Right?
Well, the trick’s on us. Your kids are being inundated with images of sex year-round, and Halloween is not immune. As much as you tell them “no,” they still see the images. Probably even seen a kid or two who got the sexy costume past their parents. And boy they do get attention, don't they?
And it’s not just the kids. In fact, adults are so into Halloween these days it’s being dubbed the “adultification of Halloween.” We seem to think it’s a good time of year to lose the cardigan and sex it up. Maybe it’s the dark lights at most Halloween parties that make people feel more daring. Did you know you can even sexy up Big Bird and Elmo? Yup. Nothing’s off limits. Sesame Workshop was so offended by sexified Sesame Street the costume marketer was asked to pull it off their shelves in 2012 (it’s still on the market).
So why do companies continue to pump out sexy Halloween costumes for females? As you’ve heard again and again, sex sells. Even for young girls. It’s what’s in. And, it’s a bit of a trickle-down effect. Adults wear the sexy costumes. Teens look up to the adults. Little girls look up to teens.
Halloween has become an $8 billion dollar a year cash cow. It’s our nation’s second largest holiday. Stand-alone Halloween stores are popping up everywhere. Party stores have expanded their costume section. Multiple catalogs are sent via snail mail. Pinterest is bursting at the seams with ideas that most of us will fail miserably attempting.
And costumes sure have changed since I was a kid. I miss the days of my youth when most costumes consisted of that smelly plastic mask (tiny eye holes included) and you sounded like Darth Vader when you attempted to breathe. You could select from a super hero, scary character, animal or princess. Done.
Or, how about good ol’ fashioned scrappy homemade? I remember one year at the last minute my brother decked himself out as a mummy with rolls of toilet paper (not a great idea in the PNW). A friend of mine said she was Laura from “Little House on the Prairie” three years in a row (those must have been some braids).
So people, let’s get our Pinterest on and see if we can come up with something on our own that doesn’t make our child look like she’s ready for the next shift at the strip club. Don’t do the Pinterest thing? Neither do I. Try second-hand clothing stores or parenting blogs for fun costume ideas.
What if your child wants a costume you deem inappropriate? Take the general idea of the costume and look for alternatives that will replicate the look in an age-appropriate manner.
One parent I spoke with said her 11-year-old wanted to be a devil last year but she could only find sexy devils, so she ended up purchasing the costume and altering it so it was acceptable.
And yes, there are still plenty of age-appropriate costumes you can buy from the costume shops and online sites. Don’t settle. Look around.
Just be strong and arm yourself with a solid response when your child says, “But Mom, why can’t I be a sexy Hello Kitty?”
Welcome to back to another year of the sexification of Halloween. It’s a crazy world out there.