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Halloween Decisions

I love Halloween. I love pumpkins and the crisp leaves crunching underfoot, the nip in the air. I love apples, pumpkin bread, apple cider. I love little children in costumes, trick or treaters. I love the parade, the downtown trick or treating. I love the pagan roots of the holiday.

One of the things I looked forward to with having a child was celebrating Halloween with her. I have, in the attic, yards of black velvet from a decorating failure (curtains in the bedroom); I kept them in case I need to whip up a witch costume.

For the first several, malleable years of my child’s life, she mostly wanted to be a princess. I was okay with that, although I think it’s boring and have definite objections to the gender typing involved. But it’s not really so important to me that I would try to change her mind. Warmth, comfort, whimsy, and fun are more important, in my opinion. I want her to be creative, and choose for herself.

However, I do have limits. And some of the costumes I see online are pushing them. It’s was bad enough a couple years ago when all the princess costumes on all the little girls had spaghetti straps with low cut bodices. My kid wore hers over a black turtleneck; most didn’t. This year, we have a vast array of slutty looking costumes to choose from. (There’s a great article on Scary Mommy that expresses this very well:

What’s startling to me is why so many parents want to dress their little girls like this. Last spring, a relative gave Cass an insane number of ridiculously fancy clothes; some were bright and strappy, and being six years old at the time, she was immediately drawn to them. When the gifter said “Yeah, she immediately chooses the ones that make her look like a M****** wh***.” Why on earth anyone would think I would think that is funny is beyond me.

I admit that compared to other mothers I know, I’m rather prim about my kid. No makeup (apparently all kids have “play makeup” now). No nail polish. No pierced ears. I want her to have a childhood, not go straight into being a teenager, and I’m willing to have a fight with her so she can have it.


Rachel Dowling's picture

This is such an important topic, Georgen, and I admire you for taking a stand on such a pervasive issue for girls and mothers. Why don't we see more girl firefighters and girl police and girl doctors?  Why not more girl gorillas and tigers?  Why does society keep pushing on females essentially two boring  choices, the princess or the french maid in fishnets?  We have to think about the choices we make as adults, too, and how this imprints the minds of our kids.  Why do Mini Mouse and Daisy and Clarabel wear impossibly precarious high heels?  Why is a Pebbles costume always a mini dress? Why are gaziliions of fishnet stockings sold at Halloween time? (Okay, I haven't actually researched that, but I have a hunch if I looked into it I would discover quite a spike in fishnet sales this time of year.)

I don't have a daughter, but as the mother of a son I ask a different version of the same questions: Why aren't there more boy butterflies and ladybugs? My three year old boy likes to put on the ladybug wings at the Early Childhood Center. When I picked up a Cindarella gown at the take it or leave it for his femaile friend, he wanted to keep it for himself. (And why didn't I let him?) Why has society determined that all things "beautiful" are the sole purview of girls? These inclinations don't make him "gay" or "girly." They make him more human, and they allow him more creativity and range. Believe me, he still likes to be the police officer, the dinosaur, and the superhero.  Why can't he be both?

Well, by gosh, he can.  When society tries to push us into corners, we have to push back.


I want a society where our girls get to be strong and our boys get to be soft.