Doing Life Together

halloween-519445_1920It’s Halloween and kids will come to our doors dressed in their favorite costumes.

What I’ve noticed is that the costumes for adults tended to be “naughty.” And some of the kid Halloween costumes  have the same theme.

Many of the costumes sexualize girls. Short skirts, fishnet stockings, revealing body parts — a sharp contrast to the boys. Take the pirate costume for example, eye patch, baggy pants and top for guys. Same for the girls except the girl pirate wear a short skirt.

Maybe you are thinking, really, Dr. Linda, now you are harping on costumes! I am, and here is why. I like to take every opportunity to point out  the cultural message to young girls about their bodies. In the day of pushing equal pay and women’s rights, we continue to tell young girls they are defined by their bodies.

Take the movie, Mean Girls, for example. The mean girls have a conversation, “Halloween is the one night a year you can be a slut and get away with it.” Then, they make fun of a girl who doesn’t dress like a slut. The message is, if you want to be cool, sexualize yourself. I know it’s only a movie but this type of message is given in music and other media.

It’s not just media that objectifies young girls, but also the fashion industry. And we know that sexualized images of girls and young women in advertising, merchandizing and media are harmful to girls’ self-image and healthy development (American Psychological Association, 2007). Yet, it continues.

Halloween is a huge merchandizing holiday, filled with naughty and sexual costumes for fun! There is nothing “fun” about sexualizing young girls. I see the fall out of this message in middle schools, high schools and colleges–girls who think they have to be sexy in order to get noticed, and guys who think they have to score to be popular. Record rates of eating disorders and body dissatisfaction, along with negative self-image, are consequences of an over emphasis on physical beauty and sexing it up.

Parents, consider costume choices if your kids dress up. Find something that doesn’t demean or sexualize them. Teach them to have fun without being objectified!




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