5 Tips for avoiding sexualized costumes that turn Halloween into Slut-O-Ween for tween girls

5 Tips for avoiding sexualized costumes that turn Halloween into Slut-O-Ween for tween girls
"Tween Bo Peep costume"

Halloween is a just over a month away, and costumes are a hot topic among tweens and their parents.

Again this year parents are disturbed by the sexualized costumes marketed to tween girls, which has been a topic of discussion in this house.  The little girls who picked adorable costumes without issue a few years ago are now choosing among costumes that feature too little fabric and showcase too much skin. These costumes are very much oriented toward Slutoween, and very far from what most parents have in mind for their girls on Halloween.

Trashy Costumes for Tweens

Even if you think the costumes showing a ton of thigh aren't so bad, the marketing descriptions are cringe inducing. They leave no question that the costumes are intended to convey sexual messages to boys. Some trampy tween costumes from different stores and their offensive descriptions:

  • Major Flirt has an olive green short skirt, studded belt and knee highs with the tag line "Make any soldier with an attitude drop and give her twenty when she suits up as Major Flirt!"
  • Sassy Sailor is a mini dress that promises to "makes you every teen seaman's favorite!"
  • Little Bo Peep with corset bodice and black fishnet leggings and "this cute shepardess doesn't wait around."
  • The Girls Queen of Hearts with a very short skirt, fingerless gloves and heels is "made for tween girls who don't want to wear a little girls costume. This outfit is made to fit tween girls to a tee" which apparently means "SUPER tight." It says "Its fun to be the villainess when you can look this cute.

Who believes these are acceptable messages to send to our girls?

Talking to your Tween about Why Exposed Thighs Aren't Okay for Trick or Treat

A friend told me about the painful conversation she had with her 9 year-old daughter explaining they the Army Girl costume was not just a "nice" skirt. Her girl honestly did not understand how the costume was sexual but her mom had to explain that it was in fact showcasing features in ways that she found inappropriate. The mom decided it was best to address the topic straightforwardly and explained to her daughter how the costume was presenting her body in a way that was not respectful. Her daughter has decided to go as a football player instead. Slut-O-Ween avoided!

Another mom opted not to discuss why a costume was bad with her young tween, not wanting to have a conversation of a sexual nature when the child could be steered in another direction without a detailed explanation.

How much to explain to a tween is always a tough question for a parent to answer, and which approach works best always depends on your child, but it could be a good teachable moment about what you find to be acceptable and unacceptable and why. These costumes are out there, and the conversation will need to happen at some point.

Tips for Finding or Creating A Costume that Doesn't Scare You AND Works for Your Tween

If you are not okay with Slutoween, don't do it. Don't let your girl grow up too fast. Send a message to retailers by not purchasing such offensive costumes. Here are some ideas for selecting a Halloween costume that will work for tweens and their parents:

  1. Start early. Your daughter could end up in a "Sassy Dorothy" costume faster than you can say "There's no place like home" if you are forced to make a time-crunched choice among the few items left at the Halloween superstore, none of which you can stand. The earlier you start, the more options you and Toto have.
  2. Make it a fun project. Either you can work on it together, or maybe your tweens are old enough to handle it on their own. Challenge your tween to get creative, and be willing to support their imagination with the same monetary resources you might shell out for a pre-made costume. Or if they can devise a more frugal alternative, think of a way to reward that, too.  I'm not saying that bribing is the answer, but a little incentive can go a long way, and lead to a much more clothed child. That can be a win-win.
  3. Tweens can be very practical at times, especially when it come to maximizing their trick or treat time and increasing their candy take. My daughter decided against one costume this year because she thought the tight skirt would impede walking quickly from house to house. I wasn't crazy about the costume and was more than happy that she came to that conclusion on her own.  The same reasoning applies to wearing heels or other inappropriate shoes that these tarty costumes seem to feature. Safety always trumps - if the costume isn't safe, you don't go trick or treating. End of story.
  4. Depending on your location, use the weather. I have made the chilly fall temps and wind my parenting assets in this conversation. Words that ring true regarding every sexualized costume: "You're. Gonna. Freeze."
  5. Try a group costume. This depends on the kids involved, but some of the most creative costumes I've seen were done as groups and not sexual at all. A group of guys wore white t-shirs and jeans, duct taped tree branches that had blown down in a storm to their shirts and went as Sherwood Forest. Another group dressed as the 4 seasons. The friend's daughter going as a football player is doing so with a friend.  I've also heard of a group of tweens going as a box of crayons, each individual was a different color. That said, tween group dynamics can be tricky, so encourage your tween to use her best judgment with this one.

Good luck! Happy haunting, and may your daughter's costume not haunt you at all.

What will your tween dress up as this year?

 

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