It’s that time again. The wind begins to bite, the store windows are lined with zombies in stilettos, and a young girl’s fancy turns to fishnet stockings.
Like many parents, you may be frustrated and perhaps nauseated by the ubiquity of sexualized halloween garb for the under-12 set. Melissa Wardy of Pigtail Pals relays a disturbing example on her Facebook page:
“Seeing is Disbelieving: At my son’s preschool Halloween party this afternoon one of the older sisters was wearing the teen version of the Clawdeen Wolf Monster High Halloween costume. I do not exaggerate when I say this girl’s entire bottom was visible under the costume’s very short skirt. Her entire bottom, and she was all of 11 or 12 years old. Her parents paid $30 for a costume that does not cover her private parts.”
People, I have the solution.
If you want to avoid the problem of inappropriate costumes marketed to your children, DON’T BUY ONE.
Make your own.
It will only take about 72 hours of your time (per child).
I’m kidding. Not really.
When did Halloween stop being about creativity and start being about which pre-packaged brand we choose to impersonate for an evening? Here’s how far we have strayed from the DIY Halloween concept: Say another parent asks about your kid’s costume, and you say oh, she’s going to be X,Y or Z and it’s clear from the lack of a ® after these letters that the costume is not being bought at one of those large and highly profitable pop-up Halloween emporiums with the lines out the door for the last two weeks of October. The other parent is likely to respond with some combination of admiration, jealousy, guilt, shame, scorn, and barely concealed hatred.
I know I am on the extreme end of the crafty continuum, and most people are terrified of the idea of trying to put together a costume. Many have neither the time or inclination to do so. But perhaps we need to think of this as a political act rather than a Martha Stewart-y one. I’m not saying we should stop pushing for change from the industrial complex. But the reality is that the engine behind those too-sexy, too-commercial costumes is powerful because it makes money. And if we want to save our daughters from the madness, we need to stop buying into it.
Make something. Even if it sucks. The beauty of Halloween costume creation is that you can thoroughly ignore craftsmanship. The thing doesn’t even have to hold together for more than six hours. Better yet, make your kid make something. What better way to change this from a holiday about commercialism to an opportunity for self-expression?
Maybe we should look at this holiday from another angle. No one wants to see their kid dressed as a slut. But sexy halloween costumes are not new. Prostitute was a popular, if questionable, costume in 1980s New Jersey. Halloween is a time for people to play with fantasy. Kids want to be more grown up. It makes sense that a little girl would want to try on the trappings of womanhood. Maybe Halloween should be a time when that’s okay — for this one day. Maybe we can use this holiday as a way of setting boundaries: between costume and clothing, appropriate and sexualized.
My daughter desperately wants to wear red lipstick. I told her she could wear it on Halloween. So she designed her costume around it. She wants to be a rose. I’ve been sewing since Saturday. Please don’t hate me. At least not after November 1st.
Image by Jillian Tamaki from “Have a Sexy Little Halloween” at the Hairpin.