The nights are getting longer, the days are getting cooler. The leaves have changed into a kaleidoscope of reds, yellows, oranges and browns. The air is crisp and smells of wood fire smoke. Pumpkins have been carved and placed on doorsteps. Skeletons and ghosts flank front yards. Every store is stocked to the hilt with a dizzying array of candy and treats. Aisles over flow with home decor and costumes. It is undoubtedly the spookiest time of year.
It is Halloween.
If your child is anything like mine the question of what to be for this much anticipated holiday has been the topic of discussion for months. She has been slowly narrowing it down as the big day nears. A dinosaur? Dragon? Pig? Witch? Tree? Wonder Woman? They have all been contenders. Looks like Wonder Woman may have won, again, this year.
Our 3-year-old’s choice of the iconic superhero has her (admittedly dorky) parents all sorts of proud. A strong female figure with some pretty awesome super human abilities? What isn’t there to like? Add to that the fact that I had already purchased the entire costume at a rummage sale two years ago for $5 and I was downright giddy. We are all set for the big night of sugar laden preschool debauchery.
Just for fun, I decided to browse the costume selection online at a couple different retailers. (I may be the teensiest bit obsessed with adorable costumes for my child. Everyone has a "thing.") The typical cast of characters were all there: witch, cat, Thomas, Doc McStuffins, Minnie and Mickey and so on and so forth. Then, I saw it. A naughty leopard costume. For a toddler!
I was shocked. Maybe it was a labeling error. I looked closer. It was labeled as a "Naughty Leopard" costume, in size 3T-4T. I was disgusted. I refreshed my browser, hoping it was some sort of joke. It wasn’t. There it was. The sexy Halloween costume trend had officially gone too far.
The costume consisted of a knee length purple and black dress with short sleeves and a headpiece with pointed ears. No big deal. Not any more revealing than my kiddo’s Wonder Woman getup. But, let us consider what it didn’t have. Not a speck of leopard print. No clock to show she stayed up past her bedtime. No cookie jar to sneak treats from. No indication whatsoever that this "naughty leopard" was ever naughty in a pre-schooler version of the word. One could only assume that the word naughty did not imply impish behavior and instead was a stand-in for the much, much more inappropriate word: sexy.
I understand that sex sells. To consenting adults. But when the product is aimed at my 3-year-old preschooler? No thank you. This crosses so many lines that it caused an uproar amongst parents. Within days, the retailer had pulled the item and issued a public apology for their lack of judgement. When did Halloween, a holiday traditionally for school aged children to dress up and adolescents to misbehave, turn into a sex-centric adult holiday?
I can somewhat understand the attraction to the "naughty" costumes for adult women worn to adult only costume parties and clubs. I was guilty of a Britney Spears school girl costume moment in my early 20’s, before a husband and child entered my life. I would have never walked down the street in a micro mini plaid skirt and thigh highs any other day. Halloween was my chance to play dress up, amongst my peers, sans kiddos. Was it super feminist? Nah. But was it fun and generally harmless? Yes, until a certain giant retailer decided to capitalize on this sexy-Halloween trend. Now, it has gone too far.
What ever happened to the days that kids threw a sheet with eye holes cut in it over their snowsuits? A long black wig, pointy hat and some face paint and you were good to go. If you felt like you were too old for the whole "guess who I am" routine, you would don dark clothing and grab some tp and a can of shaving cream. Now tp and shaving cream have become the materials for costumes for adolescent girls. With hemlines shorter than the average t-shirt, Halloween has taken a decidedly sexy turn for the worse. Mix in the candy hatred and my beloved holiday is hardly recognizable.
This year, I will bring back the Halloween of my childhood. With Wonder Woman by my side we will go house to house, exposing nothing but our love of chocolate. Hand in hand we will canvass the neighborhood knocking on all the doors that hand out Reese’s and (mentally) egging the houses sharing their pretzels and apple slices. We will laugh and maybe get a little scared. We will eat far too much sugar and stay up way too late. We will celebrate. And, if I am luckily, the naughtiest thing I will see is a teenager, dressed in black, filling my mailbox with shaving cream.
Have a safe and spooky Halloween.
Michelle writes from her tiny house that she shares with the loves of her life. Her only reference for time is the seasons and the growth of her child. She wanders with a purpose and day dreams frequently. Her writing can be found on her parent-oriented blog: www.JuiceboxConfession.com, her personal musings: www.MichelleElizabeth.wordpress.com, and on her writer’s collective: www.LiteraryTraces.com.