October 29, 2015

Halloween: Who Wants to Dress Up As a Pornified Pumpkin?

With Halloween quickly approaching, everyone is beginning to prepare. Families are visiting pumpkin patches and going on hayrides, stores are selling candy by the pound, and houses are decorated to spook and delight those passing by. And most importantly, children and adults alike are searching high and low for the perfect costume. However, there has been an apparent shift in costume trends, especially in recent years. Twenty years ago, costumes were intended to be scary—ghosts, zombies, and werewolves were commonplace. Today, it seems as if Halloween centers around the idea of sex. Even the most mundane costumes, like a rat or a crayon, have somehow managed to be provocative and revealing.

With Halloween occurring at the same time as White Ribbon Against Pornography (WRAP) Week, it is important to understand the distinct ties between Halloween and pornography. This seemingly innocent and fun holiday geared towards children has further perpetuated our pornified culture. What does it say about us as a society that we are perfectly comfortable with having sexualized costumes readily available, including those intended for children? Simply that we are becoming desensitized to pornography’s influence and girls and women are mere sexual objects.

If you scroll through any Halloween store website or visit one in person, the costumes designed for young girls are inherently sexy. And it is teaching these girls that their intelligence and creativity is useless—all they need to succeed is good looks.

Last month, one concerned mother wrote to Party City and it went viral. In response to one particular police officer costume, Kramer wrote: “Toddler girls are not imagining and hoping that they will grow up to become a ‘sexy cop’…rather, young girls, just as young boys, see and admire their family members and neighbors offering service to their communities and delight in the idea of doing the same. I am absolutely appalled that your business reinterprets girls’ innocent and well-intentioned dreams into this costume.”

Moreover, none of the costumes for boys appear sexualized at all. While a typical girl firefighter costume consists of a pleather mini skirt, the one for boys comes with a jacket that goes down to the knees along with high boot covers, thus covering them from head to toe. Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse, Director and Senior Fellow of Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye Institute comments, “Our culture is robbing our little girls of their childhood” and encourages parents to be aware of this exploitation.

Yes, Halloween is intended to be full of “make believe” and imagination; children should have the freedom to choose costumes they enjoy. However, parents need to be weary of the message that certain costumes portray. Sexual exploitation has numerous negative psychological, emotional, and psychical consequences. Clearly, we must work to take this sexual nature out Halloween, to assure girls and women everywhere that their sexuality is not their power nor identity.

There are various costumes that are still fun and inventive yet completely age-appropriate and non-revealing. Instead of buying a costume at the local Halloween store, which tends to keep the sexy outfits in stock, opt to create your own. Take a look at the media and get inspired by the popular celebrities, movies, and music of the year.

This month, Global News released a list of this year’s anticipated top adult, child, and pet costumes of the year. The adult costumes include politicians, minions, and super heroes. The children costumes overlapped somewhat and also included minions and super heroes but also listed pumpkins and Disney’s “Frozen” characters. Whether you or your child intends to dress as a witch or Princess Leia from “Star Wars,” keep the harms of our pornified culture in mind. Know that the essence of a Halloween costume is not about being sexy but rather to have fun.

Parents, talk to your children about staying safe on Halloween and remind them that their costume does not define their worth. We are so much more than our physical appearance—humans have dignity and complex thoughts and feelings. We need to end this revealing nature of Halloween and spread the word that ghosts and goblins are back in.


Works Cited:

http://globalnews.ca/news/2236539/top-costume-trends-for-halloween-2015/

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/oct/30/halloween-costumes-women

http://www.cwfa.org/pornified-halloween/

http://www.businessinsider.com/party-city-criticized-over-costumes-for-girls-2015-9

Danielle Jahn

Intern

Danielle Jahn is a Communications, Press, and Digital Strategies Intern at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE). She is a senior at The Catholic University of America and plans to graduate in the spring with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a minor in English. Danielle is passionate about advocating for human dignity and is interested in the “hook up culture” among college students and the legality of sexual exploitation.

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