Moms Talk: Ask Your Conscience on Racy Costumes and Honey Boo Boo

Yes, Virginia, you shouldn't dress your toddler like a stripper.


It’s Halloween next Wednesday. A time for small scares and big fun. A time to eat candy until your stomach hurts. A time to dress up and pretend to be something you can never truly be in your real life (for the last few years, I’ve gone as a soccer mom).

And for many, a time to decry the sexualization of young girls in our society.

It’s true that there are a bizarre number of costumes out there that are just plain inappropriate for the age group they’re aimed at.  (For some tamer examples, check out this slideshow.) And it’s also true that even the non-obviously sexualized costumes are weirdly genderized. Tight around the stomach, short flared skirts, and low cut necklines seem to be the norm for girls, regardless of what the costume is supposed to be.

My daughter last year wanted to be a pumpkin. Many of the options were strange frilly dresses that didn’t look at all pumpkin-y to my daughter. I was concerned about the body language of the children in the pictures, but my daughter was more concerned that they didn’t look like pumpkins.

Here’s the thing, though. We did find a perfectly fine, perfectly appropriate costume for her. It wasn’t even that hard. It just wasn’t the first thing on the shelf. Here’s the other thing. They wouldn’t sell those other ones unless somebody was buying them.

Gasp! Someone might have different parenting opinions about what’s appropriate!

I’ve mentioned before that I often don’t understand parental outrage. The “won’t somebody think of the children” crowd has no friend in me, be they freaked out about the marijuana legalization bill or the sexy big bird costume. I am the parent. It is my job, not society's, to talk to my kid about marijuana and age appropriate costuming alike.

I don’t get Honey Boo Boo. I don’t watch shows that feature people I don’t enjoy spending my time with, so I don’t understand either the appeal or the outrage. What I do know is that somewhere in Georgia, some parents are raising their child very differently from my husband and I.

Like I didn’t already know that.

But the show wouldn’t exist if people didn’t want to watch it. And these costumes wouldn’t exist if people didn’t want to buy them. So don’t buy them if you don’t want to. And those who do? They're not your problem (and shouldn't be your friends).

And if it’s your kids who want to buy them and you don’t want to? Seriously?  It’s time to be a parent. Don’t buy your kids things that are against your values. Buy foam earplugs instead and use them to ignore the whining.

Or offer your kids limited options. I love the website amightygirl.com, and pretty much gave my daughter free pick of anything from their awesome costume/dress up page. I also told her that she could be anything else she wanted to be that was appropriate. She’s eight, and has now known me long enough to know what that means in our house.

Whatever it takes, don’t let your kids leave the house in something that’s against your values. Something you hate? Sure. I’m not nuts about the year she went as candy corn. That stuff is disgusting. But slutty candy corn would have been non-negotiable.

Let your wallet be ruled by your conscience. On Halloween and every day. 


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