Over-the-top Halloween Costumes for Kids Expose Big Contradictions

You’ve probably wandered into a store selling the latest array of Halloween costumes, and maybe–like me–you found yourself doing double takes down every aisle.  Costumes for kids have taken an odd and alarming turn. I can’t remember ever seeing so many that glorify stereotypes and front overt sexualization.  Take a look at the selection below and see if you agree.

First we have one for boys called “Rapsta”, complete with tats on the forearms and a giant gold dollar symbol around the neck. If you’ve always wanted your kid to live out the stereotype of a gansta rappa, this one’s for you (baggy jeans not included).



In the same genre, the one below is called “Tighty Whitey”, complete with exposed briefs and falling down jeans.  Nice touch with the oversized football jersey and beard stubble.  Deuce Deuce of your favorite malt liquor optional.


For the girls, there’s the sexualized Little Red Riding Hood number below, complete with mini-skirt and furry boots.  Keeping with the fairy tale motiff, we also have Goldilocks sporting thighs highs and however-many-inch heels.














And who wouldn’t be proud to send their daughter out into the night wearing one of the outfits below? I don’t know what they’re called, so we’ll just refer to them as “Junior Miss from Hell.”  



And finally, though this one isn’t just for kids, it’s worth showing as one of the more blatant stereotype enforcers. It’s call “Mexican Man” and comes complete with a poncho, sombrero and overgrown moustache. All you need is a little wooden guitar and old donkey to fill out the image.



So my question is, what’s next?  Will Halloween 2010 feature “Little Pole Dancer” costumes for girls and “Prison Skinhead” for boys?  

Granted, if you don’t like the costumes, don’t buy them.  But, I think the mere availability of these (and many more) says something about how far the line of acceptability has moved for children, and shows up a blatant contradiction: we’re hyper concerned about the safety and welfare of our kids, but willing to buy costumes that spell out the exact opposite message.  At the same time, parents claim to want their kids to grow up without the baggage of stereotypes and racism, but then buy them costumes that enforce the exact opposite message. 

Any thoughts on this topic?  I’d love to hear them.


5 thoughts on “Over-the-top Halloween Costumes for Kids Expose Big Contradictions

  1. My thoughts? I spent five minutes staring at your post, wondering if the pictures were some sort of joke. Like – seriously? These costumes are actually for sale? I don’t even understand. This is very troubling.

  2. The photos you posted are very troubling. I thought it was just us college kids and older who somehow found a way to make Disney princess costumes look completely slutty on Halloween. Though not for kids (god, at least I hope not) this offensive costume also got pulled after consumer outrage recently: http://tr.im/DvQb

  3. Anyone remember the old SNL skit with Dan Aykroyd about the dangerous costumes? “Johnny Human Torch? It’s a bag of oily rags and a lighter!” ….that was 30 years ago, I guess it has been a problem for a long time.

    Not to sound like I think it is appropriate for young girls to wear the sexy costumes, but I just would like to point out the puritan values in this country, where sexy is bad but man…I have seen some gruesome costumes out there and the violence we are ok with seems troubling to me sometimes…..

  4. Have I grown up to be a prude? I don’t know. My first thought is that anyone who opens their door to dole out some candy and sees a young girl dressed as stripper Goldilocks should call Child Protective Services.

  5. I don’t mean to say it is prudish to think the costumes are inappropriate. I think they are, I just was thinking out loud because I see some kids, albeit teenagers, who show up with blood and guts type costumes and applaud their work….I don’t know, it is not a new argument about Americans being ok with violence but not sex, it was just in a different format when considering costumes….

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