Kids' Halloween Costumes Get Sexy
Your kindergartner trick-or-treating in a bumblebee outfit a prostitute might wear?
Creative Halloween costumes for women are being replaced by skimpy costumes more appropriate for brothels. And unfortunately, as an October 22 segment on CBS's The Early Show indicated, this trend has trickled down to costumes designed for girls as young as five years old.
As the camera panned over such Halloween costumes as a sexy bumblebee (short tight dress with thigh-high stockings) and a “Major Flirt” (short, tight shirtdress emblazoned with a tag saying “Major Flirt” and a choker-style necklace) Early Show co-host Maggie Rodriguez discussed the trend with marriage and family therapist Dr. Jane Greer. Rodriguez expressed shock about young girls' desire to dress sexy for Halloween and even called it “disgusting.” Greer simply deemed it a sign of the times, saying, “And now being grown-up, a la Lindsay Lohan means being sexy, low cut jeans, middriffs.”
Rodriguez asked Greer if there are consequences if parents were to allow their daughters to dress in inappropriate costumes. Greer, while giving parents permission to say “no,” failed to note real consequences of putting so much emphasis on being sexy. She stated:
Well, yeah, I do think there's a consequence. I think it's really important as a parent if you feel in your gut this is not the right time, this is not the right costume, you don't want them to go along with it because of the peer pressure, so you want to encourage their individuality. But at the same time, there comes a point that you just have to say no. And be aware that your saying no is protecting their innocence, it's really protecting them. You can say, look, you'll be able to do this, you're going to get there. There will be a time ahead when you can be that bumblebee or that sexy cheerleader, but not this year.
Carol Platt Liebau offered a better explanation of the long-term consequences of dressing sexy at a young age in her book Prude: How the Sex-Obsessed Culture Damages Girls (And
When [a girl has] learned to garner male attention simply by displaying her body, it's less likely that she'll develop the other, inner qualities that are conducive to strong relationships and lasting happiness; indeed a lifetime of focusing primarily on her own appearance and body – and automatically expecting men to do so as well – can make it difficult to form deep, lasting bonds with any man. How exactly, is all the superficial, ersatz sexiness supposed to translate into a joyous and mature sexuality when the right time comes?
Greer did urge parents to “find out why -- what is it about that particular costume, that particular role model that they're pushing for. Because there may be qualities and traits to that superwoman or wonder woman that are really valuable and redeeming and that you can help them in terms of their self-esteem and body image.” However, this good advice was overshadowed by the fact that she did not address the real harm that's caused by the sexualization of young girls.
The transcript of the segment is below:
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ, co-host: Halloween is a week from Friday and you may have noticed that the costumes for children have become more risque.
[CLIP FROM “MEAN GIRLS”]
CADY: In the regular world, Halloween is when children dress up in costumes and beg for candy. In girl world, Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girl can say anything about it. The hard core girls wear lingerie and some form of animal ears.
MOTHER: Doesn't she look great, honey?
GRETCHEN: What are you?
KAREN: I'm a mouse, duh!
RODRIGUEZ: Where do we begin and what do you do if your child wants to wear a costume that's inappropriate? Joining us, marriage and family therapist Dr. Jane greer. Good morning, Doctor.
DR. JANE GREER, Marriage and Family Therapist: Good morning, I'm delighted to be here.
RODRIGUEZ: I know it's chilly, so I appreciate that you're here. A lot of these costumes, believe it or not, on these mannequins are geared towards children as young as 5 years old. Does that surprise you?
GREER: Not anymore. We used to see these in the little beauty pageant for the little girls and there it was the one arena it was okay. I think now that desire to be pretty and to be attractive has spilled over to being sexy and so it's hard to make that distinction, the little girls starting at 5 years old, even under and going older.
RODRIGUEZ: To hear a girl that little say she wants to be sexy. It's disgusting.
GREER: Well, they all want to grow up. I mean, remember when we were young? We wanted to wear our mother's clothes, step into her shoes. And now being grown-up, a la Lindsay Lohan means being sexy, low cut jeans, mid drifts. And that's what they want.
RODRIGUEZ: So is that what it is? That the role models have changed from when we were kids and now you have the Lindsay Lohans and the movies like the one we just saw.
GREER: I think most definitely. The icons now are very different. It used to be the wicked witch and Glenda the good witch that little girls wanted to dress up as. But now they want to be pop stars, they want to be rock stars. They want to be, you know, out there and that's all the, you know, it leads to the peer pressure. It's all the motivating that goes on to put on those pretty little costumes.
RODRIGUEZ: Well, let's talk about what we as parents can do. Let's say our child wants to be a sexy superhero. How do we talk her out of it?
GREER: The first thing, before you talk a child out of anything, first see if you can find out why -- what is it about that particular costume, that particular role model that they're pushing for. Because there may be qualities and traits to that superwoman or wonder woman that are really valuable and redeeming and that you can help them in terms of their self-esteem and body image. So ask why.
RODRIGUEZ: Okay, you ask why. And you still don't want them to wear it. So how do you talk them out of it?
GREER: Well, the next thing is see if you can distract them or help them to focus on other possibilities, other options that they might have that capture the elements of that particular quality -- the strength, the power, being somebody who's going to go in and rescue and save people. But, in another form. Who else could they be? What else could they do?
RODRIGUEZ: All right. Here's the thing, though, if a kid -- you know, you can negotiate with kids until you're blue in the face and sometimes they want what they want.
GREER: Especially young little girls around clothes.
RODRIGUUEZ: Especially little girls. Do you think there is a real consequence to just giving in and saying, okay, be the sexy bumblebee?
GREER: Well, yeah, I do think there's a consequence. I think it's really important as a parent if you feel in your gut this is not the right time, this is not the right costume, you don't want them to go along with it because of the peer pressure, so you want to encourage their individuality. But at the same time, there comes a point that you just have to say no. And be aware that you're saying no is protecting their innocence, it's really protecting them. You can say, look, you'll be able to do this, you're going get there. There will be a time ahead when you can be that bumblebee or that sexy cheerleader, but not this year.
RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, news flash, you're the boss, not them.
GREER: Exactly. That's the job of the parents, to keep the limits in check.