What happened to my favorite holiday? Not only is it getting hijacked by Christmas (see: Christmas displays within the Halloween section at stores like Target), it has also become a minefield for racially insensitive costumes and for parents who don’t want their young daughters to dress like sexual objects.
Seriously, what the fuck?
My feminist parent friends came out of the woodwork to talk to me about their child-costume angst when I posted this link with feminist tips on twitter. (I highly recommend clicking the link, by the way, it’s a really funny list from TBD of tips, juxtaposed by a religious-right person’s Halloween tips.) I was hearing from moms who were so annoyed that the choices for girls were fairy, witch, princess or cat. Or that boys could choose to be pimps. My best friend lamented that the only costumes in his sixth-grade daughter’s size were all entry-level slut costumes with short hemlines and plunging necks. Meanwhile, his son had no trouble finding a costume that was not only action-oriented (rather than looks) but also covered every inch of his skin.
Holy crap! What does it say about our society that by the tender age of 10, girls are already being inducted into the Slutty Costume Hall of Shame?
Maybe I’ve been living in Las Vegas for too long, but it’s taken the birth of my own daughter to snap me out of the so-tired slut-costume haze. (Here, you see a parade of young women in basically bra/panty combos with wings on Halloween. So, my “slutty” radar may have gotten a bit jammed over the years.) Halloween has always been my favorite holiday and I have very good memories of creating unique, fun costumes each year (I won a lot of costume contests in my day!) with my mother. Buying store-bought costumes was never an option in my household. My mother thought they were inferior and limited a person’s imagination. I don’t know if part of her decision was based on some of the issues I see today. Were the costumes back in the 80s sexist, racist or worse? Mmm…probably. But no matter what her rationale, I hope to continue the tradition of making costumes for my kid and making the Halloween experience one of creative expression and good times.
So, here’s my list of requests to the Halloween costume manufacturers of the world (and, by proxy, the stores that sell them):
- Please stop making costumes for girls that are not age-appropriate (i.e. too short, too low-cut, themes that are too mature)
- Please stop making costumes for girls that are only based on physical attributes, rather than being action-oriented (like a ninja) or funny (like a banana) or based on girl-positive themes
- Please stop making costumes for boys that assume all boys want to destroy things or that introduce sexually explicit themes (like being a pimp) that are age-inappropriate (not to mention sexist)
- Stop making racist costumes. Period.
- Stop making sexist costumes. Period.