Why Are Teen Halloween Costumes So Sexy?

Family Matters on 10.19.11
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Photo: pinkstockphotos/Creative Commons

I should be excited. After all, this is my favorite time of year.  I look forward to using the fireplace again, cuddling on the sofa with cozy blankets, steaming mugs of cocoa, picking pumpkins, Thanksgiving menus, Christmas lists, and lazy Sundays watching pro football.

And while all of those things still remind me why I appreciate my favorite season, autumn also brings with it a dreaded task that plants a nervous ball of tension in my stomach: shopping for my daughter's Halloween costume.

It began two years ago when Kali was ten. She had outgrown the kids costume category and graduated to teens. When she was four, she'd made the most adorable Dorothy I'd ever seen, so I was excited when Kali agreed to dress up as her again. And this time, she had a new baby brother who'd make an adorable Scarecrow. I went online shopping at various costume sites, searching for a Dorothy costume in the teen sections.

But what had they done to sweet Miss Gale? The blue gingham dress was now a seductive mini. The white knee socks now sported red bows. And the ruby slippers? Well, they were now heels and looked more appropriate for a nightclub than a trip through the neighborhood asking for treats. I pulled a Mommy veto and decided on a Japanese princess costume which consisted of a flowing, non-form fitting kimono and sensible slippers.

The next year, Kali wanted to be Alice in Wonderland -- mainly because she wanted to wear a blonde wig. I once again hit the costume sites, and found it was even worse than before. Every Alice costume was tight, short, with heels and fingerless gloves. Had these people even seen the movie?

I instructed Kali to pick something else and as I looked up all of her choices (witch, cheerleader, nurse), I discovered a pattern. These costume manufacturers were using carefully chosen words to try and distract us from what our eyes were clearly telling us: They'd sexualized children's costumes. They were now calling them Sassy Dorothy, Playful Alice, and Cheerleader Cutie. The purest, simplest fictional icons had been tarted up with knee-high socks and thigh-exposing skirts. We didn't have better luck at the numerous costume retail stores we visited either. Kali, who I sensed felt like maybe she was outgrowing dressing up, opted not to get a costume last year.

It's already a struggle to shop for a 12-year-old girl who has blossomed in ways and areas that I hadn't until I was eighteen. I carefully choose each clothing item with her pre-teen body in mind, wanting her to look and feel her best while remaining age appropriate.

If you're as concerned with the overwhelming number of sexy teen costumes available, try planning your daughter's costume a little earlier in the year. Maybe hit up a few end-of-summer yard sales for regular clothes that can be transformed into a well-known costume with the help of a sewing machine and a little imagination, or test out other low-cost ways to find suitable clothing. Or, you can go old school and make your child's costume a family craft project made from items found around the house. I think either would be a welcome change from the too mature alternatives. 

How are your teenage daughters dressing up for Halloween?

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