Stop Sexualizing My 4-Year-Old

Am I the only one who feels awkward and gross imagining a 4-year-old in that “Midnight Mischief” costume?

I had the distinct pleasure of trying to find a Hallowe’en costume one year for my kids just two days before the actual day. It also happened to be the day before my daughter’s first Hallowe’en class party, so I didn’t futz around in the crap stores, or bother going the DIY route. This mama had to get shit done, and fast.

So there I was, lined up at the local Party City, about 40 people ahead of me, looking at a wall of photos of ready-made costumes I could purchase.

Welcome to hell.

Those photos on the wall were divided up by age and gender. There was a baby/toddler section, an sections for ages 3-6, 7-16, Teens, and Adults. I desperately searched the wall for the Girls 3-6 section. I was pretty confused, though, because all I saw were photos like this:


I don’t know, guys. These “costumes” make me pretty uncomfortable. I realize some of them are ballerina-bee and ballerina-bug, but what happened to dressing up like an actual bug? That “Totally Bumble Bee” looks like an excuse to wear wings, a choker and, umm, fingerless gloves. Really? Also, am I the only one who feels awkward and gross imagining a 4-year-old in that “Midnight Mischief” costume?

But this is nothing compared to what I saw just a few squares down. Especially when compared to the adult costumes.

Come on. COME. ON.

Last time I checked, cops didn’t wear skirts. Or fingerless gloves. Also, why the fuck is this little girl wearing tall boots with a heel? I used to call those types of boots “Fuck Me” boots, and seeing them on a 5-year-old makes me want to throw up, a little. Also, why the sultry hand-on-hip, dangling-handcuffs pose? And the low-cut shirt?

I don’t know. Is it possible I’m just a stodgy, old-fashioned woman? Because I’m willing to admit that’s the case. I mean, I won’t be dressing my daughter up in this shit any time soon, but perhaps most parents are okay with these looks.

I find it all terribly disturbing, though.

I have heard people complain about the sexualization of women’s Hallowe’en costumes in general, and I am absolutely on board. When I looked at the women’s costume section at the store, I felt like I was in a sex shop, getting ready to pick out a fetish outfit. Sexy everything. Sexy fucking wizard, à la Harry Potter? Give me a break.

But doing this to costumes that are being sold to 4-year-old girls? As far as I’m concerned, you guys win Assholes of the Year awards.

Previously published at The Joy of Cooking (for Little Assholes)




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Glynis Ratcliffe used to be an opera singer, but after her daughter begged her to stop singing and be quiet for the millionth time, she decided to use her inside voice and write instead. Now, she’s a freelance writer with bylines at The Washington Post, Chatelaine, Lifehacker, and CBC, as well as being a copywriter and ghostwriter for clients in various industries.