When did it happen? When did we go from dressing our daughters in sweet (albeit itchy) princess costumes for Halloween to letting them talk us into costumes covering less real estate on their bodies than they wear to the beach? When did dressing as a biker morph from wearing a leather jacket, white t-shirt and blue jeans to booty shorts, a lace bra and a fake tattoo - and nothing else? When did a cop costume turn into an itsy bitsy teeny weeny pair of shorts and a same-size shirt with buttons bursting - if buttoned at all? When did shiny booty shorts become the staple ingredient of every teenage girl's successful Halloween costume, and how is showing butt cheeks, boobies and cleavage more important than eating candy corn and mini Three Musketeers?
What has happened to the Pagan holiday called Halloween and what has the costume industry done to our girls?!
As I sift through my 13 year-old daughter's Instagram account, it's populated and overflowing with Halloween photo posts of her teenage friends - and their friends' friends. Most posts include two scantily-dressed girls posing next to one another in positions that should be reserved for the pages of Victoria's Secret catalogs. And the captions they choose so carefully and cleverly to accompany their photos are as disheartening as the costumes they sport. A girl dressed as a motorcycle rider says, "Ridin' Durty", while the post of two teens dressed as devils in red painted-on short-shorts and black lacy bras says, "We're badddd." Two girls dressed as angels (I only know this because they wore halos above their heads) captioned, "We're not the angels you think we are." My favorite, though, is the group of a group of 14 year-old girls in glittery gold hotpant shorts and white teeny crop tops whose caption reads, "Don't touch our Tuts #kingtut". My final image to share with you is the sexy referee in a two-piece bikini style black and white stripe get-up, holding a whistle between her lips whose caption reads "Let's get it started."
And if the captions chosen by the girls posting the photos are not bad enough, their friends' comments that follow go from bad to worse. "Hott"..."OMG you are anorexic and look AWESOME." "My BFF is so freaking sexy" and "Why can't I be u?" There's "You are perrrrrfectttt" and "U r so hot wtf" and "U R skinnier than a blade of grass. Lucky."
As a mom of three teenage daughters, it makes my skin crawl and my stomach churn.
Don't get me wrong - I'm far from preaching. My own daughters are sporting costumes similar to the ones I describe. Somehow along the way and over the years - probably like many other mothers reading this - I stopped trying to swim upstream and battle this seemingly inevitable Halloween attire. And I hate it. I hate that I turned my head to it and I hate that my girls believe that it's okay to sexualize a holiday that for them should be associated with collecting as many miniature candy bars as will fit in their pillowcases. I hate that years from now when they look back on Halloween they will be remembering which skimpy costume they wore instead of which house in the neighborhood gave out the best candy.
And while Halloween costumes inspired me to put pen to paper, my objective is to remind us all that our teenage daughters may need some help. I hope that as they grow up, we moms can find a way to help them understand that they are more than the costume they choose or the amount of skin they show. I hope we can help them believe in themselves without depending on the comments they see in their Instagram feeds. I hope we can help them think cleverly without focusing solely on being cleverly sexy. I hope we can help them grow up with the confidence that they will need to be strong and amazing women. I hope we can help them see why hunting for and eating mini Hershey bars might just make their Halloween.