As I walked down the aisle of one of those "pop up" costume shops (Halloween) looking for a simple magician outfit and gypsy costume for my kids we walked directly from "Sassy Fireman" which was a sexualized skirted fireman costume to Playboy Bunny. Same aisle, no warning. I sent the kids back the way we came and out the door, but not before telling the staff how inappropriate it is to have x-rated costumes, some so explicit the actual costume in the picture has to be blurred, right next to Care Bears and superheroes. I was disgusted.
At our next store (Spirit), although we found the kids costumes and the adult costumes to be much better segregated, I was again saddened that my child who wanted to be a gypsy and was in teen sizes had few options that were not "Sassy Palm Reader" with a low cute top and skirt slit to the hip or "Fortune Telling Temptress" with a bare midriff and strapless top. Sorry but Halloween is for fun... not for sexualizing our children. There is no reason my child should have to be sassy, sexy or anything other than what the costume is... A nurse, pirate, magician, or hero. Why do we he have to make Halloween into something so obscenely sexualized and sexist?
While I think it's great that they give options to little girls who want to dress like a soldier, I find it sad that they feel they can only wear skirts. Let's be honest... saving the country is easier in pants and without a choker and fingerless goves (see picture right). But I know some girls like the option so, when that happens to us, we just go for the boys costumes. Not a big deal.
It was when I couldn't find a clown costume for myself that wasn't sexual that I became pissed. I wanted to be a clown! Not a sexy clown. Not a naughty clown. Just a clown. Big shoes, crazy hair, the works. A traditional clown. It took a lot of time and online shopping to find something that would work.
I was saddened already years back to see people with the audacity of dressing up at Trayvon Martin, but this years mocking costume du Jour? Caitlyn Jenner. Now on one hand I don't have a ton of sympathy for the privacy of someone who intentionally makes a spectacle of themselves for the media (her shows, interviews, etc). But I don't think it's right to make fun of her. I don't think it's considerate to the many Transgender people struggling for acceptance. In fact, I find it insulting to the whole LGBT community.
It may not seem like it when I'm ranting on a blog, but the truth is, I am not easily offended. But I do try very hard to be considerate of others. It wasn't until a few days ago that I realized just how offensive Halloween can be to so many thanks to a site member who shared a video from Buzzfeed with us.
That's when I really noticed for the first time the costumes that really take it up a notch and mock an entire race. I suppose because I never thought to dress as a Native American I hadn't realized how truly offensive that could be to someone of that race. It would be wrong for a white man to dress as a black man and just as dumb for a black man to dress as a white man. Why is it ok to dress as a Native American? Or Mexican? We aren't talking about a long lost civilization or way of life. This isn't like dressing as a Greek goddess or a princess or knight. This is a culture that is here, is rich with history and struggles to keep their history, beliefs and tradition alive. These are people we are pretending to be! And why? Do we find them funny? I don't think many people even put that much thought into it. I think they see a cute or a funny costume and buy it. But the truth is... some of these costumes, the Trayvons, The Caitlyns, the racial ones aren't funny. They aren't cute. They are hurtful. They are mean. They are offensive. Why is it ok for one day a year to stop caring about how we make others feel all for the sake of a laugh? Some people behave that way all year, with a disregard for others. But people I know and adore take this one day, October 31st and suddenly they aren't the kind, caring, or compassionate people I know.. they are the people that would do anything for a laugh or attention even at the expense of others or their own integrity.
I know this post won't change the minds of many. Most will still buy the costumes that will get the laugh or win a prize regardless of what I say. But I know that for the sake of others, my family and I will not allow ourselves to become someone else just because we dress up for Halloween. We will be considerate of others and how they feel. We will not allow ourselves to be sexualized. We won't allow our costumes to cause others to feel demoralized, victimized or made fun of and I bet we will have just as good a holiday as anyone else... if not even better. As I wrote this post and started to look I realized too that this is an ongoing issue. There are entire campaigns to end these sorts of costumes. Culture is Not a Costume. And as many posters and images as I found to support the idea that culture shouldn't be a costume, I found almost as many posters mocking the movement. And that was really sad.
Halloween is about fun, it's about pretending to be something or someone else. It's about smiles and laughs and a good time. None of that should ever be at someone's expense.