My Austen-esque Sensibilities Hath Been Offended

Could someone please tell me when my favorite holiday–Halloween–morphed into a vanilla-porn industry that targets 8-to-12-year-olds?  Hello?  Where have I been living?  (A long, winding, and not-remotely-about-books post is ahead: You have been warned.)

In days of yore–yes, I’m pulling out the “When I was your age” card–I wore sensible costumes that were age appropriate and weather conscious for a frosty, end-of-October evening in New Jersey.  My mom pulled out all the stops and sewed borrowed* a costume from our neighbor when I was 9.  And I was the foxiest (if ONLY) girl dressed as a turtle that year.  Don’t believe me?  I have photographic evidence:


Don’t get me wrong, even waaay back in 1984 there were a few of those girls in the school parade–a geisha with liberally applied liquid black eyeliner and ruby red lips to give her an exotic look, and a princess or two preening and fussing with their tiaras while toddling around last year’s white patent leather Easter shoes.  But overall it was pretty wholesome.  We had a Rubik’s cube fashioned from a cardboard box and paint, a vampire or two (long before Cullen and his clan showed up on the scene), and the rest of the kids wore the plastic costumes from the local Woolworth’s.

The year I was 10, mom scored another borrowed costume and I strutted in the school parade as a sack of potatoes.  I wore a burlap bag and the potatoes were made from socks stuffed into knee-highs with Xs painted on them.  Yes, paired with my brown corduroy pants and Kangaroos, I was a fashion force to be reckoned with.  Please accept this artistic rendition, as no photographic evidence survives to this day:


But, I digress.  Tonight my husband and I ventured out to the local Halloween store for a few last-minute party supplies.

Upon entering, I espied a boy of about 10 suited up in a faux velvet smoking jacket with leopard trim, a diamond encrusted walking stick, floppy brimmed leopard hat, and a diamond-encrusted dollar sign dangling from his neck.  He kept flexing his right hand, telling his mom that he was getting his “…pimp hand ready for BID’NESS…”

And for those TWEEN girls in your house?  How about one of these numbers?  Don’t believe me?  Check out Spirit Halloween’s website where they hawk these getups to the tween demographic!  shortcakegoldi

Some may argue that I’m  salty because these new costumes are the polar opposite of what I wore, but that’s not what this rant is about (I’ll save that for next year).  I’m all for Halloween being a fun and flirty holiday.  You’re an adult (or in your later teens)?  Push the evenvelope!  Go crazy!  Let your sexy Little Bo Peep or Mac Daddy flag fly.

But if we keep dressing our 9-year-old daughters as half-naked Goldie MINX, those 10-year-old pimps will never be out of work.

*Let the record show that my mother did, in fact, sew us beautiful costumes long before The Disney Store came into vogue.  I guess she got tired of playing Betsy Ross by the time I was 9.


  • At 2009.10.14 02:20, Ann-Kat (Today, I Read...) said:

    “…pimp hand ready for BID’NESS…”


    What? No, really. WHAT?!?

    You have got to be kidding me?


    I miss the days of yore…when our young girls’ bottoms were covered and young boys didn’t even know what a “pimp hand” was.
    .-= Ann-Kat (Today, I Read…)´s last blog ..Review: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick =-.

    • At 2009.10.14 02:30, Hayden Tompkins said:

      WOW. It never ceases to amaze me what people think is appropriate for children.
      .-= Hayden Tompkins´s last blog ..The Truth About Rapid Weight Loss =-.

      • At 2009.10.14 07:16, The Literary Omnivore said:

        Good Lord, they’re selling this to tweens? I’ve always found “sexy” versions of normal costumes to be rather lazy, but then, as a nerd and someone just fond of costumes, I’m usually surrounded by women who have been making and wearing fantastic costumes since we were eleven. The tartiest thing I’ve seen is corsets and the 1950s pin-up girls who partner a certain Storm Trooper legion. And these are adult women, mind!
        .-= The Literary Omnivore´s last blog ..The Literary Horizon: Tokyo Beat, Literary Hoaxes =-.

        • At 2009.10.14 08:41, Chris@bookarama said:

          Oh that’s sooo wrong! Even shopping for my 7 yr old there are some inappropriate costumes for that age. There was a cheerleader one that could only be described as trampy.
          .-= Chris@bookarama´s last blog ..Of Human Bondage by W Somerset Maugham: Review =-.

          • At 2009.10.14 10:15, christine said:

            I was a ghost (sheet covering every inch of my body), a gypsy (long flowing skirts and a shawl) when I was a tween. My daughter was everything from a hobo to a 1920’s flapper (not a sexy one) when she was a tween. It is bad enough when advertisers target those of the tween years but what I cannot fathom is a parent who would buy it for their daughter. So bah humbug me!
            .-= christine´s last blog ..hush, hush – Review =-.

            • At 2009.10.14 11:07, Kathy said:

              I’m with you on this for sure!
              .-= Kathy´s last blog ..Wondrous Words Wednesday =-.

              • At 2009.10.14 11:16, Dana said:

                I agree with you! It is hard to believe what some parents put there children in. What in the world are they thinking?
                .-= Dana´s last blog ..LOAD Day 13 =-.

                • At 2009.10.14 11:44, Meg said:

                  OK, so I’m 24 — and even the costumes designed for adults completely offend me! I was planning on attending a Halloween party as the date of a guy I haven’t known too long, and I was trying to find something flirty but not skanky, you know? I mean, this gentleman knows a bit about me… but that doesn’t mean I need to let my Playboy bunny or sexpot Snow White freak flag fly! Am I right?

                  But trying to find something not revealing about ninety percent of my skin? Almost impossible. And I don’t want to go as, you know, the pregnant nun or something. Gag. Unoriginal and creepy! But hey, neck-to-ankle-length skirt. Hmm…

                  OK, no. So I guess I’ll get going elbow-to-elbow with the risque tween girls! And I can fight for the last sexy Goldilocks costume with the best of them!
                  .-= Meg´s last blog ..Book review: ‘Holly’s Inbox’ by Holly Denham =-.

                  • At 2009.10.14 12:53, pannonica said:

                    Humnh? Austentatious?

                    • At 2009.10.14 16:21, Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit) said:

                      That is appalling. I go into these Halloween stores and I totally don’t want to be wearing those costumes myself. Sad as that is and I’m not that old.
                      .-= Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit)´s last blog ..The Tudor Rose by Margaret Campbell Barnes =-.

                      • At 2009.10.14 16:34, Kari said:

                        Yikes! As a tween and even a teen, I most certainly did not have the “stuff” to fill those costumes in the right places. Therefore, I would’ve looked like a little kid playing dress up in big girl sexy clothes.

                        What happened to making costumes? It’s so much more fun and original.
                        .-= Kari´s last blog ..Review: Asymmetrical =-.

                        • At 2009.10.14 22:40, Ti said:

                          Last year, I managed to drive home right when the high school let out and the kids were dressed in the most seductive costumes!! I thought high schools had dress codes. We’re talking a$$ hanging out, fishnets, garters you name it. They sure stopped traffic.

                          Even my daughter’s costume has to be watered down a bit and she is 6!
                          .-= Ti´s last blog ..The Book Case’s Book Blogs We Love Series =-.

                          • At 2009.10.14 22:40, Ti said:

                            BTW… I love your new header!
                            .-= Ti´s last blog ..The Book Case’s Book Blogs We Love Series =-.

                            • At 2009.10.15 00:33, Lisa said:

                              Hear, hear!

                              • At 2009.10.15 10:36, Beth F said:

                                One of those moments when I’m so glad I’m not a mom! We had even quainter costumes in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
                                .-= Beth F´s last blog ..Thursday Tea: An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon =-.

                                • At 2009.10.15 11:13, Jen - Devourer of Books said:

                                  Right now I’m REALLY glad I had a little boy. He’s going as a teddy bear this year since he’s so little, but it is over my dead body that he will EVER go as a pimp.
                                  .-= Jen – Devourer of Books´s last blog ..Library Loot – October 15, 2009 =-.

                                  • At 2009.10.16 22:28, Jenners said:

                                    I’m with you 100%! And it isn’t just the Halloween costumes … the regular girls clothing seems like mini grown up outfits … and not in a good way. Let kids be kids!
                                    .-= Jenners´s last blog ..3rd Quarter Wrap-Up =-.

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