Friday, October 14, 2016

I Don't Want my Daughter to be a Stripper for Halloween

It’s no secret that Halloween stores can be a little scary to walk into.  My 6-year-old daughter cowers on her way to the children’s section as things howl, move, and light up.  My son, a mellow and sensitive 8-year-old, pales a little when he looks at the costumes on the wall for boys his age, packages of costumes containing bloody hockey players and psychotic clowns.

But the scariest part of the store for me is the “tween” selection available to my 11-year-old daughter.

As a mother, I’m living my own version of American Horror Story.  My daughter is young enough that dressing up and trick-or-treating is still something she looks forward to, but old enough that the costumes like the friendly bumblebee or Strawberry Shortcake just don’t fit her anymore.  And while I’ve rolled my eyes in the past at the women’s selection in the adult area – French maids, sexy pirates, and alluring police officer uniforms – this year, looking at the costumes for teenage girls…my blood began to boil.

Because the only thing missing is a stripper pole.

It’s sexist.  There’s no other way to say it.  When I looked at the boy pirate costume, it looked like…well…a pirate.  But when I looked at the girl costume it looked like….

If, heaven forbid, my daughter had said she wanted to be a police officer for Halloween, we would have had to go to the male section of the store.  Because there is no way in the world I’d let her out of the house in this:

In the teen girl section, baseball players aren’t wearing uniforms, they’re wearing sporty cocktail dresses.  Candy bars aren’t boxy-cut material in the shape of the actual candy, but more like tight-fitting tank dresses well above the knee.  And as far as Supergirl goes…the majority of the material is used for the cape.

Now, I realize that I come from a relatively conservative background.  When I was dressing up for Halloween as a pre-teen (back in the day), my costumes centered around things I could find in my home – I was a bum or a rock star or something my dad could make out of a cardboard box.  But kids don’t really do that anymore.  Most of the costumes are store-bought and I can understand that when you’re an 11-year-old girl, it’s still fun to play dress-up every once in a while.  For 364 days of the year, my daughter is a regular middle school student but for one night, she just wants to be something else.  So it kills me to see her face fall when she looks up at that wall of costumes that are in her size because she knows I would never let her out of the house in any of them.

Actually, I wouldn’t even let her wander around her room in that stuff – as my grandmother would say, “They barely cover possible.”

Who are these people who think that it’s okay to objectify young girls this way?  Right now, I’m picturing a panel of men – not one father in the bunch – deciding on these designs and picturing young girls like my daughter wearing them.

And that has been the creepiest part of my Halloween this year.

This post was originally published in The Denver Post's Mile High Mamas.


  1. Well said. Hang in there. After fighting similar battles and others with my pre-teen/early teens daughter about what was and was not acceptable to wear, she actually thanked me when she was in college and observing some sad pre-teens wearing outfits that "barely covered possible." It was out of the blue...."thank you, Mom, for not letting me look like that...." She is now a beautiful, professional young woman and I am very proud of her.

  2. Some pro-tips:
    - It's okay for ladies, of any age, to wear costumes marketed as "male" or "unisex" if they don't want to dress in the admittedly skimpy female options
    - You can also make or otherwise contrive your own costume, and it can be as elaborate as Cady's in Mean Girls or as simple as Disneybounding. For example, if I wanted to dress as a pirate, I would wear the brown gauchos I have from junior high, one of my grandma's fluffy shirts from the 80s, a scarf around my waist and a bandana around my hair, maybe get a pair of boots from a thrift store (or maybe just wear white stockings and black flats), and possibly pick up an eyepatch, hat and/or fake sword from one of those costume warehouses that pops up this time of year.

  3. I've just installed iStripper, so I can watch the hottest virtual strippers get naked on my desktop.