Costumes I don’t want to see

1970s costumes. Back when wearing a non-breathing plastic mask and flame-retardant jumpsuits *made* you whomever you wanted to be. (Photo via Yahoo Images.)

It’s October, which means Halloween is upon us. Thus, it’s time for my annual-ish rant about certain costumes.

In past years, I have ranted about sexy costumes. In fact, a number of bloggers I followrant and yell and shake their fists every year. Still, the numbers of skimpy, revealing costumes that objectify women seem to grow, not lessen.

Instead, let’s turn our reluctant attention to those sexy costumes that in some way sexualize children and teens.

Some examples:

Sesame Street and Pixar characters.

Girl Scouts.

School girls.



What is wrong with people? Who thinks it’s okay to sexualize young girls? Who thinks it’s okay to take children’s characters and twist them in an ugly way? Who thinks it’s okay to fetishize pedophile fantasies?

I’m not casting aspersions on the idea of sexy costumes in general. I understand that there are plenty of people who admire them for various reasons. I don’t particularly understand the desire to be objectified, but I don’t think for all women so I won’t question others’ motives.

(But if anyone can explain the appeal of sexy skunks and sexy pizza, please do.)

(Sexy corn on the cob, however, apparently did not sell well. Not even in Nebraska.)

I take issue with people taking something innocent and turning it into something perverted. I know that there are plenty of people who look at little girls and teens and see things that they shouldn’t see. And apparently there are also people who look at Elmo and Nemo and other beloved children’s toys and see things that they shouldn’t see.

The question is: What, if anything, can we do about this? Let’s brainstorm in the comments.


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14 Responses to Costumes I don’t want to see

  1. Cassi says:

    I suppose the most effective way to change the availability of those costumes is to vote with your wallet (see the example of sexy corn :-) ). Really, what amazes me, is that ANYONE is buying those. How can you have a kid, and be okay with dressing them up that way?

    We don’t have to worry about Halloween anymore, and I’m thankful. Not because of any fights over costumes, it’s just never been a holiday I particularly cared for. Between Emma’s nut allergy, which makes collecting candy kind of useless, and the fact that we live out in the country, she’s lost interest.

  2. I’m not wild about Halloween either, but I suppose if the appeal of a sexy costume livens up an adult party for you, fine. You do you, folks. But I agree 100% about sexy costumes for children. Parents, what ARE you thinking? I appreciate that the few neighborhood kids who find their way to my door have worn some pretty charming costumes recently. Thanks, Pinterest.

  3. Violet says:

    I actually kinda like the Sexy Corn costume. It’s not too short, doesn’t reveal cleavage at all, but it is still sexy. Maybe it’s because I live in Nebraska…

    But (and pardon my French, s’il vous plait) holy shit, Bert and Ernie!! That particular choice is more than just a sexualization of children’s characters, it is a violation! I am completely grossed out by the whole endeavor. It’s like the models are wearing Bert and Ernie skins, not costumes.

    I think we can only act locally, so to speak. Vote with our wallets, yes, refuse to allow our daughters to wear such costumes, teach our sons (and daughters!) that objectifying women damages all women and the relationship between men and women, and make it clear to our sisters and friends that these kind of costumes are unacceptable in our eyes…and maybe even in our homes.

  4. jen_alluisi says:

    I will admit that those don’t bother me over much because they’re designed for adults to wear. While I will never (evereverever) get the concept of a Sexy Bert and Ernie (or pizza or skunk), if you’re an adult and that appeals to you and/or your partner…have at it with your weird, weird selves. However, I *do* take serious mega-heaping issues with sexy costumes designed for children or tweens. That disturbs me greatly, and while I could tell myself that no parent would ever let their kid wear one of those…it’s not true.

  5. bdaiss says:

    Ha. My corporate web-filter is blocking all of those links except Sesame Street and the Corn article due to “adult content”. Lovely!

    Adults can do as they wish…although I wish more of us of the XX persuasion had greater respect for our brains. Be creative. Sexy anything is automatically a loser in my Halloween contest book.

    I’m pretty proud I managed to convince the girl to be Amelia Earhart (costume 100% recyclable - the clothes can be worn a million more times and the cardboard airplane will be reused and then recycled), and the boy to be a Boxtroll (another reused/recyclable box!). (I am a bit disappointed he rejected my idea to be the Ghostbusters with a couple buddies. Maybe next year…) Hubby and I will be going as Mary Poppins and Bert. Maybe. If I can get the costumes done.

  6. WTF?
    It’s appalling how grownups have absconded with a kid holiday and made it R-rated. Even G was asking the other night (after clenching his eyes shut during a commercial for a Halloween horror movie) if Halloween was so scary when I was a little kid. No, no it wasn’t. And shame on us for allowing it to slide into such turf.

  7. When I was a kid, Halloween was about telling scary stories, eating too much sugar, and walking around the neighborhood in those awful flame-retardant costumes with non-breathable masks. The 70s would have been so much more fun if my parents hadn’t been so miserable (marriage stuff).
    I’ve been lucky that my kids enjoyed creating their own costumes. You already know I abhor “sexy” costumes for young children and teens. If the adults want to go to parties where those type of costumes are the rage, I can’t stop them (good grief, those skunk leg warmers! I just pinned that costume to my humor board) but I would hope that the Children’s Television Workshop could bring legal action against companies that make Sesame Street characters into something sexually charged.

  8. Also, I am entirely distracted by your new header with those smashing kilts.

  9. Jenny says:

    Get ready for Elsa and the other girl. I am so sick of princesses and pink. However, not to be a total downer - LOVE the kilts!

  10. Jen, I suppose the most powerful thing that can be done about such costumes (aside from not buying them) is opening up discussion about them. You’ve done that. Thank you.

  11. I am about as far from being a prude as you can get so when I think something is over the top, tasteless, classless? Really. My bar is set pretty damn low but the sexy killer girl scout? No. Just no.

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