Dress like a whore for Halloween? A festival of lost souls? I started this as a rant, thinking this is a SCARY phenomenon of making costume and dress-up fun be an event for sexual staging. Little girls used to want to be Cinderella or the Wicked Witch or clowns. It used to be that Wonder Woman was the female Superman. Why are the costumes now all about the perfect male fantasy? I thought this after reading two NYTimes articles on the subject last week.
Girls Go Bad, For a Day, is the title of one NYTimes article by Stephanie Rosenbloom that soared to the #1 emailed article the day after it was published last week. The trend to dress skanky for Halloween is becoming the subject of study and writings, I read. The photo, left, accompanied Rosenbloom's article with the cutline: "Post-post-post-Feminism? Halloween is a day to flaunt your inner vixen".
Allison Glock asks in another article in the NYTimes "What if I just want to be a "mummy sans yummy?" and she questions the sex symbol costumes confronting girls as everything she looked for seemed to be questionable as she shopped with her girls, 4 and 6, at Target. Sexy bunnies, sexy leopards, sexy devils.
My daughters must be too innocent to want to get into that sort of costuming. They are more into handing out the treats for little kids. I thought, what is going on, moms? Who is making the marketing of sexpots commercially viable? Who's buying? Is this holiday now more of a dress-up occasion for the unmarried twenty-somethings on the prowl than a night of imaginary play and revelry for children? Is this about the lengthening of adolescence, the loss of childhood, the mixed messages women get or the need for intimacy transcribed to a physical representation of an emotional/social need? Or what?
So before I posted this, I thought I'd check out the Target costumes online, and do my own research before I wrote. Guess what? I thought they offered a lot of choices that seemed fine for little girls. Mini Mouse, Wizard of Oz Dorothy (photo, below right), Astronaut, Betsy Ross, Angel, Gypsy, Candy Corn and LadyBug. Sure, you had costumes feminists might abhor (Princess and Wedding Bride) or adore (Supergirl, Wizardess), but I thought they leaned towards the perfectly acceptable.
The adult women costumes even had a balance. A Laura Bush mask, I Love Lucy, Cleopatra and a lot of wigs balanced the Classic Black Bunny, Red Hot Mama, Saucy Angel, French Maid and Adult Teacher's Pet or a tame Marilyn Monroe dress.
Maybe the mama didn't want to be red hot, but there is probably something going on with all the sex costumes being sold, but mostly for adults. The online and video-on-demand means a lot of time alone with the virtual world. The age of first marriages is skewing up. Is fantasy becoming as real as real with pretending extending beyond what it used to (read Get a Life...a Second Life)? You can get cute sexy Halloween costumes online from My Diva's Closet as well as skuzzy bedroom fantasy outfits by the wazoo from all sorts of online sellers and probably a bunch of brick-and-mortar shops that cater to that industry that weren't as everywhere in the past as they are today.
So before we bash Target unfairly, let's ask what does it mean when pretend play is marketed in terms of physical sexual imagery? I think it is yet another mixed message that girls get: you can be anything you want to be when you grow up versus power comes through sexuality combined with an extended adolescence, and the pre-marriage or non-marriage population buying into the cultural messages.
Before ranting about the issue, thinking that a young girl wanting to be Madame Curie would wear just a wonderbra, a lab apron around the waist and carry a test tube today, going by what I've read-- let's look at the big picture.
So...What, what, WHAT is going on, moms?
P.S. Mother, that photo above of the "new Japanese fashion of printed skirts (not see-through)" about to hit the U.S. that you emailed me this week? From what I can tell, it dates to Feb. '03 and is an urban legend... but it fit right in here!
Content by MotherPie