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Giving a New Meaning to “Trick or Treat” for Younger Generations

Think back to your favorite childhood Halloween costume – probably the one you picked out weeks in advance and tried on every day when you got home from school. Halloween is the one day of the year children get to play the ultimate make believe game. Recently, however, Halloween costumes for younger generations have been giving new meaning to the phrase “trick or treat,” with costumes getting shorter and tighter.

Lin Kramer, a mother of a three-year-old girl, wrote an open letter to Party City in September, hoping that they would reconsider their costume options for kids. She explained that Party City offers 53 “classic” costumes for boys, ranging from vampire attire to "rascal pirate.” The girls section, however, consists of 45 options, from "vampire queen" to "precious pirate.” She noted that 30% of the costumes for boys are related to professions, while just under 7% are in the girls’ section. Kramer believes the company would send a better message if its costumes were marketed to “kids” in general, rather than to each gender. Many people were deeply distraught over the "cute cop" costume for young girls that was sold this year. The girl modeling the costume wears a form-fitting mini dress with heeled knee high boots, dangling handcuffs from her fingerless gloves in a provocative pose.

Many parents claim that it is very difficult to find a more appropriate Halloween outfit for their little girls these days. The limited, sexualized outfits marketed to young girls reflect how our society views women. These costumes suggest that society values appearance over character. Young girls are experiencing a crucial stage in their development in which many of them struggle with self-esteem. Halloween, a holiday that is supposed to be founded on fun, should not make young girls question their self-image. Jean Kilbourne, a media educator specializing in advertising’s effect on women’s issues, claims that “girls who are exposed to sexualized images from a young age are much more prone to eating disorders, lower self-esteem, and depression.” She continues by explaining that sexualized costumes “set girls up to be looked at as objects by men.” These costumes mislead girls into thinking they need to dress a certain way to get attention. 


The controversy around the murky topic of sexualization of Halloween costumes should be reserved for those old enough to be able to pay for their own costume. Adults are mature enough to make their own choices and dress the way they want. However, our society is already taking away so much of the younger generation’s innocence. Halloween should provide the children of today with the opportunity to be imaginative and young, nothing more.



Molly Farrell is a junior at Bucknell University majoring in creative writing and minoring in arts entrepreneurship. She enjoys long walks on the beach, netflix to continue playing, and her puns intended. Follow her on instagram: mfarrell34
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