Happy Halloween ... not! Gory, sexual costumes turn Mom off
Happy Halloween? Can there be a Happy Halloween with the gory, sexual costumes peddled to kids? Not for this mom, who feels more glad than guilty not to be stuffing her 19-month-old into costumes, just yet.
Stephanie Hanes is the lead writer for Modern Parenthood and a longtime Monitor correspondent. She lives in Andover, Mass. with her husband, Christopher, her daughter, Madeline Thuli, a South Africa Labrador retriever, Karoo, and an imperialist cat named Kipling.
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If you’re a mom (or dad, for that matter), chances are you’re even more prepared. You’ve not only figured out your own look – a combo of funny or scary but still appropriately parental – and have already purchased (or sewn, or gathered) a fantastic outfit for each one of your kids. You’ve plotted with them the best candy routes and know the afternoon start time of the wholesome town Halloween parade.
This is how I imagine it, at least.
Because it doesn’t work like that at our house. Not even close.
Actually, I don’t even have a costume for our daughter, who at 19 months is just the age that greeting cards and catalog ads seem to think is perfect for Halloween dress up. (What’s cuter than a young toddler dressed up like a pumpkin? Or a cat? Or, as Pottery Barn suggests, a $79 Max from “Where the Wild Things Are?”)
I just didn’t get it together this year. And I am feeling pretty darn guilty about it.
But also conflicted.
You see, over the past few weeks, I’ve been reading more and more stories about what I can’t help but feel are really problematic trends in Halloween costumes for kids.
It was the sexualization of little girls that I first noticed. (Our guest blogger, Rebecca Haines, wrote about this in her post a few days ago; it’s also a topic that I’ve delved into in the past – check out our magazine cover story “Little girls or little women? The Disney Princess Effect.”)
It started when I went to find her a cat costume. Baby M loves kitties, including but not limited to ours, and since I am not most creative Halloween costumer in the first place I thought that’d suffice.
Now, there are some really cute toddler cat costumes online. But there are also a whole lot of short skirts and “pretty kitties” and pint-sized models holding their tails just so. Eeww. And powers-that-be help you if you veer from household pets into some of the fairy or Tinker Bell costumes out there. Or any other of the sexy-vampires-in-training outfits. For my baby girl? No thank you.
So I turned to more traditional fare. What about witches? Goblins? Super heroes? (Does anyone make a Captain No outfit? That’d be appropriate.)
And what I found was scary.
I mean that literally.
There are some incredibly freaky outfits out there for the under-five set. The Associated Press wrote about this the other day, detailing how gory costumes once reserved for preteens are now increasingly sold for toddlers – think Freddy Krueger and Chucky in blood-splattered pint-sized packages. Even the “sock monkey,” apparently, is being sold in kindergarten size as a bloody zombie sock monkey costume.
Yikes. For real.
Because, while I realize I sound like a total drag here, I just can’t get excited about exposing our daughter to blood and gore and sexuality and anonymity. I mean, that’s why we don’t let her watch television.
Moreover, many children her age get confused and troubled by strange changes in environment. While it might be empowering for her later to chose a costume and take on a different identify for a day, and while it would certainly be cute for us adults now, why force her into what, at this age, is an unexplainable – and likely very scary – situation? Or, for that matter, teach her that it’s OK to go up to random people’s doors, ring the bell, and take whatever they give you? (Again, cool for older kids, impossible to explain to younger ones.)
She is at a stage, I decided, where this Halloween thing just doesn’t make sense.
She is also at a stage where she fights like a marine when I try to put on her shirt and pants. The idea of trying to stuff her into a snowsuit of a cat or dog costume – even the cute kind – makes me shudder.
So those are all of my excuses.
But I’ve got to say, this morning I feel a little disappointed. She really would have been cute. And all her little friends are doing it.
Maybe there’s time to run to Target or something after all. (Is that where you get kids costumes?) We’ll just avoid the bloody, sexy baby witch number.
Happy Halloween, everyone.
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