Halloween’s innocence scared away

By Sophia Coleman

When I was a kid, the nights leading up to Halloween consisted of crafting costumes with my family. The smell of spray paint, foam and markers filled the air, and a monstrous mess grew on the floor of the garage. In 1993, my mom and dad designed beautiful sea creature costumes for my sister and me, artfully cut from pieces of spongy foam and painted with lifelike precision. When the masterpiece was placed over my head, I transformed into a goldfish, and my sister morphed into a seahorse. We wore our costumes to preschool and were the envy of our classmates. The next year, my mom designed us creative and comfy pony costumes (pictured right, aren’t we cute?) made of sweat suits, fabric glue, felt and yarn.

I can only imagine how children would receive our costumes nowadays. Only two decades have passed, and society has taken a seismic shift toward sexy.

It’s not news that the Halloween getups of today have become overtly risqué. Any student who has been to a Halloween party in the past five years knows it’s the time when the seemingly innocent transform into harlots of the night. I’ll unabashedly admit I’ve worn skimpy outfits every Halloween since I started college, but lewd costumes are no longer worn solely by the 18–and–over age bracket. Kids as young as 6 years old are mimicking the message pop culture has fed them: If you’re not sexy, you’re boring.

The first study to identify self-sexualization in young girls was released this summer. The study, which was conducted in elementary schools across the Midwest, found that girls as young as 6 think of themselves as sex objects.

Researchers used different sets of dolls and asked each girl to choose the ones she thought looked like her, looked how she wanted to look, who the popular girl in school resembled and the one she wanted to play with. Girls chose the “sexy” doll most often in all categories. In fact, 68 percent of the girls said the sexy doll looked how she wanted to look, and 72 percent said she was more popular than the unsexy doll.

I’m not sure what triggered this disturbing mindset in our culture. At one point in time, Halloween was an evening full of candy-induced stomach aches, homemade costumes and ghost stories. But the frumpy pumpkin getups have been replaced by orange mini-dresses and go-go boots. In place of warty witches and ghost costumes made of sheets are skimpy French maid outfits and corseted cat costumes. Even The Muppets and Disney characters are caught in the slimy grip of Slut-o-ween.

Young girls idolize images of sexy women without knowing the sexual connotations that come with them. The mass market will never change, so it’s parents’ responsibility to teach children what is age-appropriate. When my parents made costumes with me, it helped develop my creativity and taught me there are many forms of beauty.

Young girls should hold off on pleather, fishnets and corsets, not only because they’re inappropriate, but also because there are few times in a lady’s life that she can dress as a gigantic pumpkin and devour a pillowcase full of sweets.