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Opinion: Let Halloween Stay Child's Play

With designers and retailers hawking age-inappropriate costumes for little girls, what's a parent to do?

While shopping for some last minute school supplies, I noticed that stores are already stocking their shelves with Halloween costumes.  Prepackaged kits with costumes ranging from Superman to Papa Smurf were already hanging up. Boys seem to have plenty of muscle bound heroes to choose from, which is a great thing for them to model themselves after. As I began looking through the girls section, I didn’t like what I was seeing.

Who doesn’t love Hello Kitty? She’s been around for a long time. I loved my Sanrio pencil case in second grade. 

I don’t love the costume.

Some designer took the wholesome Hello Kitty idea, and turned it into a sex kitten outfit, complete with short skirt, tight shirt, kitten ears (reminiscent of a Playboy bunny) and high heels on the model. You can easily find these costumes everywhere, including a sleazy Goldilocks costume on eBay in a child's size 2-4. These children’s costumes are virtually indistinguishable from adult costumes found in store windows on South Street in Philadelphia.

This isn’t a problem if you’re an adult, going to an adult costume party. To each their own

But when these costumes are being marketed in the children's section, in the size a pre-kindergarten-aged girl would wear, I definitely do have a problem with it! Even the model is far too young to be wearing so much make-up and a “come hither” look that rivals any Victoria Secret model. This is the point when I become enraged and disgusted. This is a pedophile’s dream come true. Children should not be viewed as sexual beings.

I’ve been present at a school Halloween parade in recent years where a young man was not allowed to participate because he came dressed as God. I understand the separation of church and state, but this was a child wearing a beard and a billowing robe. Nothing controversial, per se—he wasn’t offering leaflets or citing religious rhetoric—but he was not allowed to participate. 

Meanwhile, young girls in elementary school wearing Bratz costumes (complete with short skirts and fishnet stockings) were allowed to walk in the parade. It saddens me to see little girls begging for this kind of costume, or that set of dolls, and to know that they think that this is what is beautiful or glamorous.  

Boys get heroes to emulate. What about little girls? What does this say about parents, or society that accepts or condones teaching our daughters that this view of women is an acceptable “look,” particularly for little girls? Sexual objectification is harmful for girls and young women, and is to blame for anxiety problems, eating disorders and unhealthy sexual behavior later in life.

As you’re shopping for your little girls' Halloween costumes in the coming weeks, please take the opportunity to have a conversation with your daughters about the costumes they see in the stores. Talk to them about your family values and what characteristics make up a healthy, wholesome young woman. Help them make good choices about what kind of female character or heroine they would like to emulate. 

And take the opportunity to send a clear message to the costume designers and the chain stores that sell costumes that are not age appropriate. Ask them to stop stocking them because you will NOT be buying them.

joe September 21, 2011 at 10:17 PM
I couldn't agree with the author more. The sexualization of pre-teen girls Halloween costumes is getting worse and worse each year. I have no problem with having sexy/even slutty ADULT Halloween costumes, but over the past 5 or so years, the costumes for pre-teen girls are getting sluttier and sluttier. It is disgusting and a sad reflection of where I society is going. I refuse to buy my 13 yo daughter these trashy costumes and instead we usually make her costume each year, by buying individual pieces/parts and building it from scratch. I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks this way.

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