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Something to Be Scared of: Retailers Market ‘Sexy’ Halloween Costumes to Little Girls

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Posted on Oct 31, 2013

A selection of girls’ costumes for sale as of this posting on

By Sonali Kolhatkar

(Page 2)

I reached out to my own community of fellow parents to see how those people who have daughters (I have two sons) navigate the retail market during this time of year. Several friends told me that they simply steer their children away from the Halloween aisles at the store altogether while others wondered why any parent would buy these costumes for their children in the first place.

One female friend echoed a common theme, that the older their daughters get the harder it is to avoid the “sexy” costumes. She told me, “I’m disgusted with the sexualized costumes and those get rejected outright. It wasn’t hard at all when the kids were little (under 7). Now that M is older, it is harder. She’s as tall as an 11-year-old and that’s when the costumes get inappropriate. We may have to start making them next year.”

Another outspoken friend lamented the trend away from scary to sexy, particularly where witch costumes were concerned. She noted, “Now witches are just little slut bitches with a naughty little spanking spoon. WHAT? Where is the green face and warts? Why don’t they make witches the magnificent she-devils they should be?”

Kilbourne offered some suggestions of what parents can do to protect their daughters from the sexualization of commercial Halloween costumes. She recommended they “try to enlist other parents as allies in a neighborhood or a school to start talking about this so that your kid won’t be the only one who isn’t dressed this way. And, getting parents to understand that although this may seem ‘cute,’ it really isn’t and it really does have very harmful effects on girls.” She added, “That’s not my opinion. There’s a lot of research that backs that up.”


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Kilbourne, who lists many useful resources on her own website, suggested that parents who want to take a more active role in pushing back against the retail Halloween market can also support the efforts of groups like Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

Some mothers of daughters who have scoured the Internet for alternatives, recommended to me blogs like Princess Free Zone and A Mighty Girl, as well as online stores offering alternative toys and clothes for girls.

While bucking the pressures of a commercial trend requires serious effort and persistence, what’s at stake is the self-esteem of an entire generation of young girls. As one frustrated mother told me, this Halloween “we need to stop pimping our baby girls out!”

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