Age-appropriate Halloween costumes for little girls have suddenly become very hard to find. Today’s parents are dealing with the frustrating reality that the costume choices for girls — at virtually every age now — fall into one broad category: sexy time.
Full-grown adult women have dealt with this for years, some even joking that Halloween is the only time of the year that they can dress “like a slut” and get away with it. But this sex-sells trend for Halloween costumes has expanded to include costumes aimed at younger and younger girls.
Just perusing the options on popular costume Web sites confirms the trend. The “career” category of costumes offered on Party City’s Web site gives a prospective female customer only a few options.
She can dress up as a waitress, basically dressed like a French maid. She can be a gaudy teen pop star.
Or she can choose to be an all-pink-clad boxer (I guess Party City considers boxing a career; is there a degree for that?).
Thankfully, Party City also offers girls a police-officer costume and a scrubs-wearing doctor costume.
But hold on a moment: Party City’s description of the “cop” get-up entices parents with the promise that your little girl can be “tough stuff in our Girls Cop Costume!” Yet the accompanying picture hardly coveys toughness with its skin-tight, cap sleeved top, ruffled skirt, Madonna-esque fingerless gloves and silver handcuff accessory hanging from the dominatrix-style faux leather belt.
Another Halloween Web site offers a military costume for tween girls. It consists of a sleeveless, belted, ruffled-bottomed tank top, camouflage leggings and fingerless gloves (what’s up with the fingerless gloves?). Sure — because that’s exactly what female soldiers look like.
And what the site calls a SWAT team costume for young girls looks more like an undercover policewoman posing as a prostitute. It comes with a high-waisted and belted minidress, a white tank top with the word “SWAT” written on the front (the only thing that actually identifies it as such), fishnet stockings and, naturally, fingerless gloves. The Web site suggests you finish the look with black, patent leather go-go boots. (In case she needs to go undercover in a topless bar?)
Most troubling, many of these costumes come in sizes that can fit a 3- and 4-year-old — by design! As for Party City’s sexy policewoman costume, the Web site helpfully instructs buyers that the costume is “available in toddler sizes.”
Interestingly, for boys who want to select from the “career” category of costumes, Party City offers 27 different choices. Unlike the costumes for girls, these “career” costumes actually resemble what a real police officer, soldier, fireman and doctor dress like.
I guess Party City decided against the sexed-up “Magic Mike” alteration to the boys’ costumes.
One mother of a little girl was so frustrated by her child’s limited costume options that she posted an open letter to Party City on her Facebook page, which then went viral.
“Toddler girls are not imagining and hoping that they will grow up to become a ‘sexy cop’ — which is clearly what your girl costume suggests,” she wrote. “Rather, young girls, just as young boys, see and admire their family members and neighbors offering service to their communities and delight in the idea of doing the same.”
Party City responded with all the warmth and compassion of a robo-call: “Nothing we carry is meant to be offensive and we supply Halloween costumes suitable for all styles, tastes, and budgets.”
If only! The Party City “career” section for young girls provided only a few choices for parents looking for age-appropriate and accurate costumes.
And this lack of choice isn’t limited to Halloween costumes. Parents struggle to find modest clothing for their girls every day of the week. Whether it’s too tight, cropped T-shirts with suggestive phrases displayed across the bust line or the skinny, low- slung jeans or barely-there sundresses, it’s a chore and a challenge to find clothing that doesn’t make little girls look like objects of desire.
In defense of Party City and similar retailers, it appears these companies are simply supplying what’s being bought (Party City said its sexy cop costume is a hot seller). That should stop.
Parents who are concerned about these outrageous costumes should create a demand for age-appropriate costumes or start making their own.
No one is a prisoner to the oversexed Halloween SWAT tween.
Julie Gunlock is a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.