Parent, Teacher, Activist
I went into a local Halloween store to look at the costumes with my nine-year old daughter. BIG MISTAKE!! These are pictures of the actual costumes that were on offer for girls her age and a bit older. As I looked at these costumes, I began to wonder, why has Halloween become such a time of sexualizing young women? If you’ll notice, these costumes are all sized for tween and teenagers. That means all the way down to ages nine and ten.
My daughter saw me taking pictures and asked me what I was doing. After I told her that I was taking pictures of costumes that I thought were inappropriate, she asked, “What’s inappropriate about these costumes?” This question brings up a very good point to consider. It is often difficult for children and even adolescents to understand why particular clothing choices are connected with sexuality. Most of them don’t understand what lingerie is and how it’s involved in sexual relationships, so they can’t see the similarities between the lace-up corsets, thigh-high hose, and plunging necklines in a Halloween costume to what might be displayed in an adult bedroom. That’s why it’s vital for the adults in their lives to help them make decisions. What may look “cute” to a 14-year-old girl will often look sexy to an older teen-age boy or adult man. It is our responsibility as adults in the lives of children and young people to say “you shouldn’t wear that, and this is why.”
Sure it’s uncomfortable to talk about sexual desire sometimes, especially if you hadn’t planned on having that conversation! But, it’s important for us to explain to the kids in our lives why we’re saying no, be it to an outfit, a relationship, or an outing. We need to be open and honest about what messages they may be sending, what situations they may be getting into, and how they can keep themselves safe. When we open up this line of communication, our kids are better able to ask us questions about things they don’t understand or of which they are unsure. After we talked about the costumes and what made them inappropriate, my daughter said, “Mommy, will you let me know if I’m ever wearing something that might send the wrong message?” You bet I will!