Halloween costumes sexualizing children

Halloween costumes sexualizing children October 31, 2007

On an earllier blog post, I complained about how Halloween is getting ever more gruesome, sexualized, and taken over by adults. But now I read that companies are making–and apparently parents are buying–sexually-oriented costumes for little girls! Pre-teens! As young as 8! Read this and be appalled:

Gabby is 11.

And the Playboy Racy Referee costume was only the latest that her mother had vetoed one pre-Halloween-crazed afternoon at Party City in Baileys Crossroads as too skimpy, too revealing, too suggestive .

Bawdy Halloween costumes, however, have become the season’s hottest sellers in recent years. Not just for women, but for girls, too. And parents such as Cirenza don’t like it.

Gabby eyed the Sexy Super Girl but decided against it. A friend at her Catholic school had worn that costume for a Halloween parade and pulled the already short miniskirt way up to cover her tummy. “That didn’t look very good.” But Gabby did like the Aqua Fairy, a vampy get-up with a black ripped-up skirt, black fishnet tights and blue bustier that comes in medium, large and preteen. A medium fits a child of 8.


How about the Funky Punk Pirate Pre-Teen, with an off-the-shoulder blouse and bare midriff?


Gabby pointed to the Fairy-Licious Purrrfect Kitty Pre-Teen, which, according to the package, includes a “pink and black dress with lace front bodice and sassy jagged skirt with tail. . . . Wings require some assembly.”

Cheryl Cirenza shook her head in exasperated disbelief. “This is all so inappropriate. It’s really disturbing,” she said, eyeing a wall of such girl and preteen costumes as Major Flirt in army green, the bellybutton-baring Devilicious and a sassy, miniskirted French Maid, pink feather duster included. She’d just turned down her 13-year-old daughter’s request for a Sexy Cop outfit. “When I was their age, I was a bunch of grapes.”

But that was back in the days when Halloween was still a homemade kind of holiday, when an old sheet with eyeholes was a perfectly acceptable ghost and clumsily carved pumpkins on the front porch were about as elaborate as the decorations got. Now, Halloween is big business. Americans are expected to spend upwards of $5 billion this year on candy, ghoulish decorations and costumes. And the hottest trend in costumes, retailers say, is sexy. And young.


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  • organshoes

    I know so many grownups going to multiple Halloween parties tonite, adults only, at clubs, restaurants, and in private homes, looking to win costume contests, not seeking candy.
    It’s all about the costume. (And the drinking.)
    It’s become an exhibitionists’ festival. Not just exhibiting body parts, but posing as something other, in very audacious and outrageous ways. The gorier or the sexier, the better.
    I think it’s become a holiday about self-indulgence: looking like, and acting like, what the conscience normally rejects; giving oneself license to appear evil or wicked or just plain disgusting, but all with the cover of fun. But, it’s really uncovering something very much our real nature, and our desire to satisfy that nature.
    Maybe those kids’ costumes signify more ways for adults to show–through their children–how little they care for norms of decency, and even for self-respect, and to be somewhat open about such lack of care for at least one night, all under the cover of fun.
    It gives new meaning to ‘creepy’.

  • I just read about this on Mike Straka’s “Grr” Column. It is quite disturbing to see how we are over-sexualizing the children. What ever happened to childhood innocence?

  • The most disturbing part of the article to me was that all of the moms had no problem saying, “No” to their daughters, but the only father interviewed would not forbid it.

  • One thing that bothers me as well is that we apparently think that it’s OK for an adult to dress as a prostitute. Two centuries ago, a slight on a woman’s honor was likely to result in a duel. Today, we apparently have husbands and boyfriends who are encouraging their women to degrade themselves this way.

  • I think we should call kids in those costumes “Mommy’s long lost desires now come to life in her poor child”. My daughter is 18 and those types of costumes have been around since she was little, though not as popular. Moms and dads just need to know who they are and who they want their kids to be someday; its then simple to say “no, that’s not what our family does” and help their kids to find something more a bit more creative.

  • Alexander Ring

    I think we are dealing mostly the general sexualization of girls. Halloween simply becomes an excuse to take this to the nth degree under the pretense that “its just a costume”. I have an 8 year old daughter and have been amazed at some of the things I’ve seen in clothing stores for her demographic (“No, you may not have shorts with the word ‘juicy’ on them!”). For her, it is just fashion. She retains her innocence in that she doesn’t understand the sexual undertones these clothes, not realizing that those around her (especially those of a male persuasion) do not have that same innocence.

  • organshoes

    Just treated my first trick or treaters.
    Two Muslim women, with about a dozen children in tow: Spiderman, a princess, a pirate, a skeleton, a scarecrow, a clown, even a hobo–nothing bad or brazen.
    Let’s hear it for assimilation!

  • I thought that was a big no-no for Muslims! A few years ago at my child’s elementary school, Muslims complained about the Halloween parade because it was against their religion.

  • Pinon Coffee

    I adore costumes… we usually went trick-or-treating when I was little, and getting dressed up was most of the fun. I went as Princess Leia, as Dorothy from Oz, as Pippi Longstocking. But we always made the costumes ourselves. I clearly remember gluing red glitter on a pair of shoes. It would have ruined it to go _buy_ a prefab costume. Eww!

    I’m sure the inappropriate costumes are a symptom of culture. From the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks. I was watching “The Quiet Man” last night, and was struck by John Wayne’s line, “Where I come from, we don’t talk about our womenfolk in saloons.” The best part was how the other man got all insulted and in a dither–because he knew what was appropriate, knew Wayne was right. How far we have fallen!

    I went shopping yesterday, and saw lots of adults in costumes. There was a heavy preponderance of devilettes and witches, but the worst were a male nun (a checker at Wal-Mart) and a male in a high-heeled elf-girl outfit. So wrong.