Let your little girl grow up first.
The other day I had a humbling experience. I took my young daughter shopping for a Halloween costume and decided I should get one for myself. Except I'm a late 30s mom who fits into tween or teen costumes.
Sizing tends to be a pain in the butt, and I'm not exactly interested in all the costumes they offered. I asked the employee at the store if they had Disney princess costumes in tween or teen sizes.
His response? Looking at my daughter, he said, "We do, but they're not exactly family friendly, if you know what I mean."
There was a lady at the register who added, "He means the sexy costumes. You know, 'Slutty Nurse' or 'Slutty Cinderella.'"
Slutty Cinderella? Who knew?! I thought Cinderella was basically an indentured servant to her step-mom, not a prostitute.
And what baffled me even more was the fact that the tween and teen costumes were considered too sexy for me, an adult woman, to wear trick-or-treating with my kid. This was a Disney princess costume no less, and mind you, I'm pretty sure that like Mother Mary, all the Disney princesses were virgins.
But you see, as moms we don't make those costumes, so what we do is we blame the media. The clothing companies. The costume stores. Society.
But hey, the companies keep making those costumes for a reason: they must be selling. If there was no profit, the companies wouldn't make "Minnie Mouse: the hooker version," because there would be no profit. Yet, low and behold, these costumes come out in droves.
The problem lies with the parents. With us. Well not me ... yet. My daughter is still four.
I've seen 10-year-olds with sports bras and booty shorts. I've seen 12-year-olds in miniskirts. Time and again parents say, "But these are the only options out there for them to wear."
Maybe so, but if you keep shopping at American Eagle and purchasing your child denim shorts that look like handkerchiefs or Halloween costumes that look more like go-go dancer attire rather than something appropriate for an eleven-year-old girl, guess what? YOU'RE the problem.
Sure, you can buy leggings to cover up that short skirt or a t-shirt to place under a low-cut shirt, but maybe instead, as a group of parents, we all should stop buying these costumes.
Maybe we should flood social media channels and websites with complaint after complaint until these companies hear us loud and clear: Little girls are still girls, and don't need to learn how to titillate at the age of twelve.
Little girls don't understand the power their bodies will hold and when their bodies command too much power and attention at a young age, it's a toxic cocktail — one that little girls cannot control or understand.
I was the fourteen-year-old who had men drive by slowly, shouting comments while staring at her breasts. I was the thirteen-year-old who looked like a boy, until suddenly, I didn't.
And it was weird. It was weird to have a lot of power and eyeballs on me without being able to understand the consequences of such attention. It was like an out-of-body experience from ages thirteen to fifteen for me.
So here's a plea: Stop buying the slutty costumes and shaking your head that that's simply "how it is" in today's society. Just because something is a norm doesn't mean it's an acceptable norm.
It was the norm for women not to vote. It was the norm for women to not attend college. Thankfully, those norms aren't still the "norm" today.
There are many regrettable fashion choices that have come and gone in my time: the mullet, the high-hair wave, the Vanilla Ice fad, parachute pants, scrunchies, acid wash denim, light nude lipstick with dark brown lip liner.
But none of those choices are as detrimental and damning as the sexualization of girls' clothing and Halloween costumes.
The majority of these girls don't even have the equipment to play the part and if they do, they're so awkward about what's happened to their bodies that they don't want to have a discussion about it.
Let girls become women before they can own and possess sexiness or a sexy outfit. If you want there to be change, you have to be the one to spark it:
- Talk to your daughter about her body and the changes it's about to go through.
- Explain why these costumes are inappropriate even if she thinks they're cool.
- Show her your costumes from when you were a kid — photos or actual costumes if you have them.
- Campaign with other parents to these companies making the inappropriate costumes, and shame them into response using their social media pages to target them (companies hate bad social media response).
- Don't buy the costumes and put your money into a costume designer or seamstress. These sexy, made-in-Taiwan costumes aren't cheap, so you can at least pay a small business or contractor to make something that's not slutty AND a quality item.
- Campaign the costume stores who are selling these atrocities. Ask them when they will find an alternative for our girls.
Here's a cold fact for you to digest before you tell me that those things will never work:
Do boys have sexy costumes showing off their appendages? Do they have costumes showing off their sophisticated rears? No. Boys can be boys.
Girls must be appetizing. Your daughter, my daughter — OUR daughters — aren't for sampling. They aren't tasty treats or sexy precursors to womanhood.
They are people first. Let them grow up wanting to be a nurse first, and a sexy nurse later when they understand the consequences and allure behind that sexiness.