Halloween in an age of eroticism

I first wrote a blog post about the sexualization of children’s Halloween costumes four years ago. This year, I am seeing articles by other parents and writers, on blogs and Huffington Post, decrying the image we are pushing on our girls. People are finally standing up to this twisted merchandising trend.

It was driven home to me today how out of hand this has become by my oldest daughter, who is working in the Spirit Halloween store this year. She told me that on her last shift she asked a female customer if she needed anything, and the woman responded with, “Yes – do you have anything that doesn’t look totally slutty?”

It’s worth noting that this woman wasn’t shopping with a child – she was trying to find a costume for herself.

On Halloween four years ago I told my kids they had to make up their own costumes out of the remnants of several years of costumes left over from four growing girls, and the result was telling. One of them came up with two ideas – a cool nerd, and a model. However, both costumes consisted of nothing but short shorts over nylons, or tights and ankle boots, with off-the-shoulder sweaters. Both outfits looked like something Julia Roberts might have worn in Pretty Woman . The child herself had no idea why we said she couldn’t go out dressed like that. She was very hurt and confused because she thought she looked nice.

I am having the same problem with Mikaela this year (she’s 11). She wants a costume from the store her sister works at. Have a gander at some choices from the “tween” aisle.

Costumes marketed to 9-12 year old girls
Costumes marketed to 9-12 year old girls

And here are some costumes marketed to adult women.


I sense a theme.

Mikaela went to the store a night her sister was working and texted me a picture of herself wearing a devil costume, but I’m not posting it here because I’m afraid I’ll be accused of contributing to underage porn. In my day a devil costume consisted of a full length red dress, red cape, devil mask and horns. Her teeny outfit was a skin tight mini-dress that ended an inch and a half below her crotch…no cape. When I told her no bloody way was I buying that, she assured me that it was only so short because it had been a small; she wanted the medium. Don’t hold your breath, kiddo.

I have never bought these sexy costumes for my kids and won’t be starting now. There isn’t a single outfit in that store that doesn’t make my little girl look like she’s going to be jumping out of a cake at a bachelor party.

I’m encouraged to see the growing outrage towards this trend. I was worried that by the time my daughters are parents, the parade of girls walking into school would look like the catwalk at the Victoria Secret Fashion show. It’s really the only thing the fashion industry hasn’t tried yet.

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