Halloween, if nothing else, allows children to play dress-up and use their imagination to be anything they want to be. Or in the case of the mainstream costume industry, gives kids the chance to further perpetuate gender roles, reinforce stereotypes, and dress little girls in hyper-sexualized outfits.
I was at a party store last weekend and spotted a wall of "featured costumes." I managed to snap a couple photos with my phone before the salesperson asked me what i was doing. "I am documenting the lack of options for little girls when it comes to Halloween costumes" I responded, "so that i can blog about how this parallels girls' and young women's lack of options in the real world." ("DUH!" i thought sarcastically...) I apologize for the quality of the photos, it was the best i could do with a phone on the fly :)
Of course there ARE options... for example, take page 1 from an online search for girls' Halloween costumes, letters A through H: Aurora, Barbie Anneliese, Barbie Cheerleader, Barbie Rapunzel, Blissful Bride, Bratz Jade, Bratz Sasha, Bratz Staurday Night Style, Cinderella, Devilicious Child, Fanciful Fairy.
Is all the pink making you a bit pukey? Sorry about that...
The store where i snapped the photos of those three costumes had several more options. For example, there were Power Ranger costumes, doctor costumes, and handyman costumes for the boys. For the girls? More of the same. I thought the whole girl = nurse/boy = doctor thing was so last decade?? Guess not. Not to say there is anything wrong with being a nurse, because there isn't. But to lead girls to believe that they don't have the option to be a doctor and boys to believe that they cannot be a nurse is outdated and damaging. The Tycoon costume cracked D and me up the most. I guess the female equivalent to "Tycoon" in Halloween costume talk was the MegaStar?? Because clearly all that girls have to offer is their looks and bodies. The model in the photo on the costume can't possibly be older than 10. No 10 year old should be wearing that much (or LITTLE) pleather... And i doubt many 10 year olds are that developed... So, moral of the story for your 10 year old girl who wants to be "successful" when she grows up? Boys use their brains to make money by becoming Tycoons. Girls use their appearance to make money by wearing very little clothes or by attracting Tycoonish boys.
Obviously it only gets worse as the target audience gets older. Check out the changes in costumes from toddler to girl to tween to teen to adult. The only thing that changes is the amount of fabric that goes in to making the costume. For example, even seemingly empowering costumes, like superwoman (which they call "supergirl") or warrior princes (who then becomes a "Geisha"), become hypersexualized as the target consumer gets a bit (read: no more than a couple of years) older. These attempts at options fall even shorter as girls grow up.
I get it. Some people (read: freshmen college girls who are experiencing their first taste of sexual freedom) see Halloween as an excuse to make any outfit into a sexy costume. Want to be a pirate? Ok! Sexy Pirate it is! Sexy Cat Woman, Sexy Nurse, Sexy Witch, Sexy Bunny, Sexy Schoolgirl, Sexy Anna Rexia (get it? sexy anorexia... riiiiight) and my all time favorite, the Sexy Detective (my freshman year 1st college Halloween party costume...) P.S. You should absolutely click through those links to the photos of those costumes but they are definitely not appropriate for work so careful.
Because i couldn't possibly write about Baby High Heels in any other post than the Halloween ridiculous costumes post, i wanted to include a bit about the new "infant trend..." If the topic of girls' Halloween costumes doesn't bother you enough check out baby high heels (designed for babies 0-6 months)!!!! I can't wait for a friend or family member to have a baby girl so that i can buy these for her!
So that we don't end on a negative note, what are some empowering costumes your kids (or kids you know) will be wearing this Halloween?