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Trick or Trollop: From scary to sexy, Halloween has been transformed for many girls

Are costumes for young girls getting too racy?

Fish nets….CHECK.

Push-up bra…CHECK.

Fake lashes…CHECK.

High heels…CHECK.

This isn’t my Halloween check list. No. My costume will consist of jeans, sweater, a glass of wine and a face full of chocolate. I will be going as an I’ll Diet Next Week Mom. ‘Why the wine?’ you may ask. Well, the vino is helpful in retaining my sanity while witnessing all the little girls who DO use the above check list. I wish I were exaggerating, but truth is there are times I feel I should be handing out condoms instead of Snickers.

For females in general, Halloween has gone from spooky to slutty. Forget the Dorothy costume unless she is sportin’ 5 inch platforms and exposed cleavage. Don’t bother with the creative, humorous or – God forbid - scary outfits. If you have girlie parts, this holiday comes with a pass to show them off. Naughty nurses, salacious nuns and skanky pirates will be out on the prowl this weekend enticing a whole lot of "eww" and very little "boo."

Don’t get me wrong. I see the appeal in feeling a little more sexy than usual; the excitement of piling on the makeup, wearing that long wig and balancing on stilt like heels. I mean, it’s only once a year, right? Or for lazy Spanx haters like me – once a never.

Anyway, this isn’t about what grown women choose to wear to adult parties. If you want to flaunt it – then you go, girl. What gives me the urge to upchuck my Junior Mints are the street-walker-dress-up-kits I see on the trick-or-treat circuit. Anything from Mousin’ Around Teen to Rebellious Referee Teen can be found on numerous websites and in stores.  

During this fright-filled holiday, the grownup aisle becomes tangled with the kid aisle. Halloween costume designers have clearly erased the line between women and girls. Not even considering the weather, the dresses are so short and the necklines are so low that these kids must wear an entire outfit under their costume. Or, at least, they should.

I cannot count the times I have (out loud in full-on, grandma-style) gasped while looking through costumes for the girls. I am working on a future piece about the new documentary, Miss Representation, which is about the degree to which media and society dictate a woman’s identity and values. A large part of the film was dedicated to the topic of the sexualization of our young girls. I think these Halloween costumes are a prime example of this.

On this week’s episode of The Middle, the 9th grade daughter – who, let’s face it, is kinda on the geeky side – was a dressed as a die for a Halloween party. She soon found herself in a dilemma trying to decipher what exactly is "Halloween cool." As the other girls (in their revealing duds) chatted with boys, she was ignored in the corner and even used as a table for soda cans.

At one point all girls go through this moment of realizing we are judged by how we look and what we wear. Some begin to recognize this at seven, others get to hold on to their fashion innocence a while longer. Again, that topic is deserving of its own space. But honestly, did the sexualization of our girls have to even take over the fun creativity and spookiness of Halloween? Instead of trying to be the most gross and most ghouly, girls are supposed to shoot for prettiest and most suggestive.

I suppose in a society with Toddlers and Tiaras, thong underwear in child sizes and words like "Sexy" or "Hottie" embellished on the butts of tween sweat pants, can we really be surprised with the Provocative Kitten ensemble for 12-year-olds? But as much as what we, as a society, allow and accept remains a primary cause of this icky display, it really boils down to the parents. And I will never understand a parent who is okay with their young daughters demonstrating sexuality as they go door-to-door asking for candy from strangers. As they say on online: SMH.

Heather Asiyanbi (Editor) October 28, 2011 at 11:42 PM
I just went shopping to find a simple tiara and sash and was amazed at the sleaze available for girls! Yikes.
Bill Folk October 29, 2011 at 02:42 AM
"I will never understand a parent who is okay with their young daughters demonstrating sexuality as they go door-to-door asking for candy from strangers." I've got to agree with Heather here...girls should NOT be dressing like this at anytime much less for Halloween.
Heather Asiyanbi (Editor) October 29, 2011 at 03:23 AM
What are you talking about?! Heather can't not like the way Halloween costumes for girls seem too old for them?! You make no sense.
James R Hoffa October 29, 2011 at 04:28 AM
Maybe I'm a little old fashioned, but I've been complaining about the skank wear for young girls on Halloween for years now. "At one point all girls go through this moment of realizing we are judged by how we look and what we wear." Having been a 'boy' myself once upon a time, I can say from experience that only the boys who are IDIOTS judge this way and are attracted to such girls, which unfortunately seems to be a majority of the boys out there. And also from my experience, those seem to be the boys that most girls are attracted to – even the ‘geeky’ girls. You girls have no idea what that does to the self-confidence of us less popular guys! Personally, I was always attracted to the often ignored, 'geeky,' and modest girls over the skanky/slutty girls. But I was always too scared to let them know that. So, I can only surmise that the same must be true today as well. Perhaps a bigger part of the problem is that many girls, for whatever reason(s), envy and try to attract the attention of the wrong boys.
James R Hoffa October 29, 2011 at 04:39 AM
@Angry White Dude - I'm also a little confused here about the point you're trying to make. I believe that you are implying that you believe HRG to be an extreme feminist, by the way in which she hyphenates her last name. However, most associating with the extreme feminist movements of today (ie – slut walks/marches, etc.) would support and defend such Halloween costumes. So, I'm not so sure that your point exactly makes sense here. Instead of trying to tell us what you believe HRG’s inner thoughts and motivations to be, why don’t you try sharing with us your opinion and thoughts regarding such costumes, as we’d love to hear the Angry White perspective on this! BTW – Let’s all give AWD a pass on this one, as he was emotionally compromised due to O’Reilly calling David Duke a pinhead on the Factor tonight.
Heather Rayne Geyer October 29, 2011 at 01:29 PM
Not worth my time and energy to figure this one out. For the record, my name is not hyphenated. Rayne is my middle name. I have several reasons why I use my full name, but the explanation is quite boring so I will spare you.
Heather in Caledonia October 29, 2011 at 01:42 PM
I'm so glad I have boys. I think dressing like that is too provocative for young girls, but for some it's not much different than what I see them wearing on hot summer days, anyway.
Heather Rayne Geyer October 29, 2011 at 01:56 PM
Honestly, I think most of the judging comes from our mothers, sisters, friends...other women. And then we turn it on to ourselves. Yea, sure. boys/men do this to an extent by whom they chose to date or socialize with - but not to the extent women do.
Dustin Block October 29, 2011 at 03:11 PM
Another problem with these costumes? They're simply bad costumes. They're not creative, fun, interesting or empowering. They're just lame.
Rees Roberts October 29, 2011 at 03:34 PM
.....thinking out loud....... How about people who do not think it is appropriate to dress girls this way on Halloween tell not only the kid but any parents who happen to be around that they won't be getting any treats because of the way they are dressed? I'm conflicted as I say this because the kid thinks it's cool and the parent said it's ok. But going by the saying "it takes a village to raise a kid" don't we in the village have some say who gets the treats? Hmmm.....
Jacob Crawford October 29, 2011 at 04:12 PM
I'm with Dustin on this - my main issue with these costumes is the lack of originality. If skimpy were the result of a creative costume, I'd be more forgiving, but since it seems to be the primary (and singular) motivator, it's just lame. Does anybody remember the part in "Mean Girls" when all the high schoolers are going out dressed slutty? And one of their dads is just standing there looking appalled and angry. I always think of that this time of year.
James R Hoffa October 29, 2011 at 07:33 PM
@HRG - Got it! I was just working off of AWD's assumption in trying to figure out what he was trying to say here - and I still can't figure it out! As I said though, I think that he deserves a break on this one, as I believe that AWD was emotionally compromised due to the thrashing that David Duke took on the O'Reilly Factor last night :-)
shelly m October 29, 2011 at 09:00 PM
my 5 and 6 year old grand daughters wanted to be certain animals for halloween of course there was nothing in their size. Fortunately I was able to make them what they wanted but what are others supposed to do if they aren't able?
Amy October 30, 2011 at 01:45 AM
I have an 8 year old daughter who is all about the Monster High collection. We had to have a conversation as to what is and is not appropriate to wear. Needless to say she is now going as a Flower Girl Vampire, and I bought her a black turtle neck to wear that would match her her black dress. Parents need to talk to their daughters and I have been impressing upon her since she was little, certain dolls were not allowed because they were not giving the impression I felt she needed to portray.
Cheryl Sanders October 30, 2011 at 03:20 AM
I went to several of the costume stores in the area with my 10 year to look for a costume. We did find ONE that we could agree on - an orange and black witch costume that was cute and age appropriate... it was in the teen section. Regardless, with the temperatures as they are around here in October, she will have to wear black leggings and a black turtleneck under it to stay warm, which helps with the skirt being above her knees. Funny thing: I remember dressing as a witch multiple times as a girl in the '70's, and the costume was all black and ALL THE WAY DOWN TO THE FLOOR, lol!
Cheryl Sanders October 30, 2011 at 03:27 AM
Oh and it may be a bit off topic, but speaking of the 'sexualization of teen girls,' did anyone notice what the average dress worn to Homecoming looked like this year? My husband dropped our son off at the dance and came home saying he hopes when our daughters are that age, I don't let them dress like most of the girls he saw - dresses barely covering their rear ends. I guess it goes along with the mom who came in to the dept store where I work (in the intimate apparel dept that particular day) and asked if I could help her find a thong for her 9th grade daughter to wear under her Homecoming dress... "and make it something comfortable please.... it's her first thong." OMG!
Denise Konkol (Editor) October 30, 2011 at 07:58 PM
in a previous life, I was a CSR with BuySeasons. I took orders from tons of moms who bought these costumes and in figuring out sizes, I learned that most of the girls being outfitted in these costumes were 12 and under. Really, mom? Cheryl - I'm a mom of a high school daughter and it's a challenge to find a dress that isn't sleazy, either too short or too low cut. Thankfully, they make my daughter uncomfortable to wear as well, so we're on the same page.
Denise Konkol (Editor) October 30, 2011 at 08:01 PM
As exaggerated as that movie can be, it's often dead-on. The costumes are all the same, just different colors. Short, tight, lowcut.
Heather Rayne Geyer October 30, 2011 at 10:50 PM
Yes - I seem to notice that every year. I don't know how or why - but we always seem to be at a restaurant on Homecoming night and we always see these kids when they come in for dinner. Wowzers! It really reminds me of what a "mean" mom I am and am going to be. (sigh) They are so going to hate me... That thong story ruined my appetite. I suppose i should thank you with all this candy around!!! :)
Lyle Ruble October 31, 2011 at 02:28 AM
These young girls are only emulating what they are exposed to. It is every parent's responsibility to monitor and regulate their children's behavior. The problem is not with the kids but with the parents.
Mark McCullough October 31, 2011 at 03:16 AM
Pick up a bag of spider rings. Those who trick or treat during the daytime or not in a real costume, or in your case, a costume you disapprove of, get only a spider ring. Or give them a rubber bug or similar. Young kids may actually prefer to get the spider ring. I exercise full editorial control over costumes. Really good costumes get double the candy and the spider ring.
Mark McCullough October 31, 2011 at 03:20 AM
I've seen very creative costumes that used few if any sewing skills or store props. I'm being told one person is making a fake chainsaw from cardboard and aluminum foil. I could see someone going as a cell phone. Since you did sew them costumes, save them for next year. Bits and pieces may be reused, altered, or used to make a very different costume the next year.
Heather Asiyanbi (Editor) October 31, 2011 at 01:57 PM
Not only are they inappropriate, but they're expensive. And, like Dustin pointed out, lacking in any creativity.
Heather Asiyanbi (Editor) October 31, 2011 at 01:59 PM
Shopping with our youngest for a Homecoming dress was a nightmare for that very reason. Nope, too short. Nope, too tight. Nope, too much cleavage. Finally, we found a one-shouldered dress that met the length, fit and no cleavage rule. After three torturous hours. UGH. Then it was on to shoes and why are all the sparkly shoes platform stripper shoes?! I should have just recorded myself saying "no, those are inappropriate" I said it so often.

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