Maybe I’m a Prude….

1 Nov

I have a question…When did Halloween become an excuse to wear no clothing? Maybe I’m a prude, but there is no doubt about it, Halloween looks very different today than it did 15 years ago.

So when did this happen? Before I take a stab at an explanation, I’d like to preface the following by stating that no research or investigation have gone into this post. Just sharing my opinion folks. So here it is – I think it happened somewhere between my sister and my adolescent/teenage years. See, my sister and I are six years apart, and somewhere in that age gap the shift happened. It obviously didn’t happen over night, but I’d have to say somewhere in the late 90s Halloween changed.

This is about to sound like I’m saying, “When I was a kid,…” (mostly because that is what I’m saying), but here we go anyway….When I was in middle school in the late 80s, The Cosby Show was super popular. I dressed like a Huxtable in colorful, oversized sweaters. Six years later, my sister went through middle school watching Beverly Hills 90210. She and her friends went to school in baby doll dresses with handbags. Now there was some overlap in mine and my sister’s television viewing. I too enjoyed 90210 while in high school, but for some reason my friends and I preferred to dress as if we were in the band Nirvana – ripped jeans, layers, a flannel shirt on top and one tied around the waist for good measure.

I pretty much dressed this way in college as well. And certainly, when Halloween rolled around, my friends and I were not dressing as sexy anything. In fairness, I was in Ann Arbor,Michigan and it probably was already 30 degrees, but still…. Not only was vamping it up not a consideration, if we had seen a fellow Wolverine letting it all hang out, we’d certainly have something to say about it (behind said person’s back of course….Listen, I’m not proud of this behavior, I’m just trying to be honest). So, what do you think of these Halloween pictures from my senior year (1996)? Lame? Maybe. Sexy? Not even close.

I know that when my sister got to college in the fall of 1999, she and her friends did not dress like they were in a grunge band. Halloween in Madison, Wisconsin was probably no warmer than Michigan, but there were certainly plenty of young women baring it all. They even joked about it, “I’m going as a nurse.” “A slutty nurse?” “Well, yeah…..it is Halloween.”

So was there a shift? Did it happen sometime between 1996 and 1999? Is Beverly Hills 90210 to blame? Oh Brenda, Kelly, Donna….look what you’ve done…..

The upsetting part is not the adult women wearing the racy costumes, it’s the fact that children’s costumes are alarmingly provocative now too. I know many of us have noticed this phenomenon. I’ve been reading loads of eye-opening articles and posts on the disturbing nature of sexy children’s costumes. From Pigtail Pals to CNN, people are talking about how deeply troubling it is for our kids – our girls – to be sexualized at such young ages, and what we can and should do to put an end to this.

I completely stand behind this mission.  I have two young daughters of my own, and the last thing in the world I would want to do is put them in harms way. And sexualizing kids does just that.  Communicating the message that little girls are sexually appealing has devastating consequences. So where are these wildly inappropriate costumes coming from anyway? Simple answer – the stores. Clearly, something has changed in the way adults view Halloween, and this has dramatically affected the holiday for our kids.

So now I have a few new questions….Are we buying these costumes because that’s what’s available?   If we stop buying these inappropriate get-ups for our kids, would it impact their production? Is there any way to get back to The Cosby Show days or are we happy post-90210?

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7 Responses to “Maybe I’m a Prude….”

  1. Rachael Fischer Fisher November 1, 2011 at 4:33 pm #

    OMG, Hillary! Those pics from UM bring back so many memories…. To your point, I decided to make my kids costumes this year. I am FAR from creative or crafty, but I could not rationalize allowing my 4 and 6 yo daughters to dress as pre-teens and pay hundreds of dollars for them to do so. By making their costumes, I retained some semblance of control. It also gave them creative license! Ben dressed as a UM Superfan — can’t find that in the catalogs! And Sylvie was a home-grown Strawberry Shortcake. No wig. No short apron. Ellie was a 50s waitress — side ponytail, skirt below the knees, and white blouse. Very age appropriate. I was proud of their choices and they didn’t seem to mind that their friends were dolled up in expensive and ill-fitting numbers. Let’s see if this approach still works when they are 16! BTW, thank goodness for those cold AA winters, or we MAY have exercised less prudent judgment…. LOL.

    • superheroprincess November 15, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

      Hey Rachael! I’d love to see pictures of your homemade costumes 🙂 My oldest went as a store bought strawberry shortcake, but I did notice that the next size up was a bit more risque. We went the homemade route with the little one – it was fun to do and she loved it too! Next year I’m crafting it up. 😉

  2. Stacy Bankier November 1, 2011 at 5:58 pm #

    You are a genius writer and I agree 100% with everything you wrote! 36-46 year old women shouldn’t be dressing like sluts either and I saw it all weekend….we vetoed the first 6 costumes our 8 year old brought to us because they were so inappropriate! She ended up going as her teacher, phew!

  3. Ashley November 1, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    I totally agree with you! It has gotten really ridiculous to the point that costumes for women all look like they came from the lingerie section. If you want to see something really interesting, go online and look at costumes for men and women. The costume for the man will simply be titled, “Doctor,” while the costume for the woman is “Sexy nurse.” For just about every male costume that exists, there is a “sexy” counterpart. This one is my favorite:
    http://www.partycity.com/product/wizard+wanda+and+harry+potter+couples+costumes.do?sortby=ourPicks&pp=60&size=all&navSet=170384

  4. Molly November 7, 2011 at 12:07 am #

    I wrote about this last year (http://feministforte.wordpress.com/2010/10/30/when-did-halloween-costumes-become-so-sexualized/). I have no problem with women dressing as a sexy something for Halloween, but I do object to those costumes being the only options. And like you, I strongly oppose those costumes being only slightly toned down and marketed to young girls.

    • superheroprincess November 7, 2011 at 7:19 am #

      It’s pretty crazy, right? Thanks for stopping by! I’m off to check out your blog 🙂

    • superheroprincess November 15, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

      Crazy options, right. Loved your post by the way. Hey, did you get that parking space?

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