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The Scariest Part of Halloween: Shopping for a Pre-Teen Girl

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It’s no secret that Halloween stores can be a little scary to walk into.  My 6-year-old daughter cowers on her way to the children’s section as things howl, move, and light up.  My son, a mellow and sensitive 8-year-old, pales a little when he looks at the costumes on the wall for boys his age, packages of costumes containing bloody hockey players and psychotic clowns.

But the scariest part of the store for me is the “tween” selection available to my 11-year-old daughter.

As a mother, I’m living my own version of American Horror Story.  My daughter is young enough that dressing up and trick-or-treating is still something she looks forward to, but old enough that the costumes like the friendly bumblebee or Strawberry Shortcake just don’t fit her anymore.  And while I’ve rolled my eyes in the past at the women’s selection in the adult area – French maids, sexy pirates, and alluring police officer uniforms – this year, looking at the costumes for teenage girls…my blood began to boil.

Because the only thing missing is a stripper pole.

It’s sexist.  There’s no other way to say it.  When I looked at the boy pirate costume, it looked like…well…a pirate.  But when I looked at the girl costume it looked like….

If, heaven forbid, my daughter had said she wanted to be a police officer for Halloween, we would have had to go to the male section of the store.  Because there is no way in the world I’d let her out of the house in this:

In the teen girl section, baseball players aren’t wearing uniforms, they’re wearing sporty cocktail dresses.  Candy bars aren’t boxy-cut material in the shape of the actual candy, but more like tight-fitting tank dresses well above the knee.  And as far as Supergirl goes…the majority of the material is used for the cape.

Now, I realize that I come from a relatively conservative background.  When I was dressing up for Halloween as a pre-teen (back in the day), my costumes centered around things I could find in my home – I was a bum or a rock star or something my dad could make out of a cardboard box.  But kids don’t really do that anymore.  Most of the costumes are store-bought and I can understand that when you’re an 11-year-old girl, it’s still fun to play dress-up every once in a while.  For 364 days of the year, my daughter is a regular middle school student but for one night, she just wants to be something else.  So it kills me to see her face fall when she looks up at that wall of costumes that are in her size because she knows I would never let her out of the house in any of them.

Actually, I wouldn’t even let her wander around her room in that stuff – as my grandmother would say, “They barely cover possible.”

Who are these people who think that it’s okay to objectify young girls this way?  Right now, I’m picturing a panel of men – not one father in the bunch – deciding on these designs and picturing young girls like my daughter wearing them.

And that has been the creepiest part of my Halloween this year.

Catherine Tidd is a writer, widow and mother of three. She is the founder of, a free peer support website dedicated to anyone who has lost a significant other and has a Facebook peer support page under the name Widow Chick.   She has been published in several books about grief and renewal and also writes a blog on anything that pops into her nutty brain called Bud Light Wishes and Cheeto Dreams.


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  • comment avatar Amber Johnson October 23, 2012

    In one word: UGH. I’m glad my daughter opted to be Dorothy from Wizard of Oz so I didn’t have to sift through all the horrid costumes.

  • comment avatar A.F. October 23, 2012

    Yes! Thank you for speaking what so many of us think! It is sickening and it just leads these girls to think that this is acceptable at an early age…and then it will trickle down to younger ages.

  • comment avatar Lori October 23, 2012

    Talk about creepy! Yikes.

    I have always wondered where the demand comes from for this particular type of costume.

  • comment avatar J-Dub October 24, 2012

    Sadly these costumes are being purchased by someone – if they weren’t then companies would catch the drift and try something a little more moderate. They did leave a bad taste in my mouth the last time I went into a Halloween store, too, though.

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