Oh Halloween! That glorious time of the year filled with pumpkins, sweet treats and costumes. Bean has been looking forward to Halloween since last Halloween. I say that without exaggeration. The whole idea of a holiday that revolves around candy and dressing up is pretty the be all, end all for Bean. She doesn't really get candy the rest of the year, so the very thought of walking around town and getting candy is better than Christmas for her. All she wants in the world is unlimited access to
I learned last year that kids change their minds frequently when it comes to Halloween costumes. Last year, I got suckered. I hunkered down some serious coin for an Etsy-made Ariel dress. Bean's request last year was very specific: she wanted to be Ariel in the pink dress. For those of you not familiar to the Little Mermaid's plight, Ariel wears the pink dress at the end of the movie when Eric leaves her for the sea witch. Ariel is basically seen crying and looking forlorn in it and yet, that was the dress that she insisted on time and time again. And, so I found it. It arrived on time, pretty and pink with a long sash to be tied in a bow. Perfection. I was thrilled. Finally we had a princess dress that didn't look highly flammable made in a shimmering plastic/polyester/mystery blend fabric. This dress looked comfortable. Bean wore it immediately, but I sensed that she missed the tacky ruffles and choking hazard beads that embellished most of her other costumes. So when Halloween arrived, I wasn't totally surprised that she opted for the Snow White hand-me-down costume that practically doubled as lounge wear in our house. With her dark hair and ivory white skin, she did make a perfect Snow White. Full disclosure, I would have said the same had she decided to be Ariel.
This year, I told her she gets one costume. I'm not going to be the mom that buys multiple costumes. She started out months ago saying that she wants to be Rapunzel. Easy. We have two Rapunzel costumes, in varying sizes. I bought a Rapunzel wig. Done and Done. Then she switched it up and said that she wanted to be Jasmine or Merida. This, I believe was a calculated request on her part because those are the two princess dresses that we do not have. Smart girl. I also kind of dreaded the Jasmine costume because I personally think her ensemble is bit sexy for a Disney movie. Then, she switched back to Rapunzel and so it went for several weeks, until I casually suggested that she dress as a flapper. I suggested the flapper for two reasons: one, she has a perfect flapper bob haircut and two, I have two flapperish dresses that would be adorable with long beads and headpiece. No ciggies or tommy guns for my flapper girl. Bean loved the idea. I showed her some glamorous pictures of flappers and some videos of people dancing the Charleston. She was sold. My husband, not so much. And so it went, she changed her mind from Rapunzel to flapper and then back again. I was prepared, until my husband bought her a little bat mask. Then she decided wholeheartedly to be a bat. Fine. Easy, I'll just go to the numerous giant Halloween store that have sprouted up in my town.
I went to the store and I found what can only be described as sexy bat costumes. I kid you not. Why, oh why is okay to sexualize little girls? Why is this normal? When did Halloween embrace the slutty/sexy version of every costume and how is this okay? I went to three stores. Three! Not a huge sample set, but enough to be very annoyed at Spirit Halloween, Party City and the random other unnamed Halloween store.
First off, I was surprised that at four years old, costumes are clearly delineated between the sexes. In the girls dept, I found Vampiress costumes. Not bats, but mini Elvira costumes. No actual animal bat costumes. Batman-check! Batgirl-check! But the actual animal bat variety was nowhere to be seen. Then I ventured over to the boys side, and I found one bat animal costume in size 2T. After that, they were all batman costumes.
At my last stop, I found hybrid ballerina bat costumes. Now, my little girl loves dressing up and wearing tutus and princess dresses, but since when did bat animal costumes have tutus? I've never seen a bat out in the wild twirling around in a tutu? And I was just at the zoo! In fact, if bats are currently perceived as dangerous carriers of Ebola, shouldn't the costumes look a little more menacing and less frilly and silly? What saddened more than anything was these sad little kitten poses the sexy bat girls were wearing on the packaging. One girl had her hand on her hip with her lips puckered wearing her bat tutu ensemble. The costumes were black and lacy and weirdly sexy for such small kids and I walked out discouraged and upset. Is this what manufacturers have in store for my sweet, little girl? At four years old, she's already taught to puff her chest out, stick her behind out and be an object.
Boys get to be actual bats or super heroes. And girls can be frilly, tutu-wearing sexy bats? How is that fair? My husband asked me why I was so upset when I had a flapper costume already at home. Wasn't that also racy and sexy? It wasn't, I argued because flappers were early feminists. They owned their sexuality. They challenged social norms and they did it on their terms. They helped usher in a new age of modern women. What the hell did the sexy bat and Elvira do for humanity?
Thankfully, my friend heard my plight and had a homemade bat costume for me. It's adorable and Bean has worn around the house for days and gone to one Halloween party squeaking like a fruit bat. Halloween is four days away, and it's anyone's guess what she will actually be. I don't care. Rapunzel, Flapper, Bat, whatever as long as she's happy and she owns it wholeheartedly.