I went to spin class Saturday. The spin instructor, a lovely young woman in her 20’s, was chatting about her Halloween costume choices. “I’m considering Honey Boo Boo. I always like something from pop culture. A couple of years ago, I went as Britney Spears, when she was so messed up”. I thought about this as I was spinning, and I went up to her after class. I told her about my work in kids’ bullying prevention and our Girls’ Respect Groups after school program for middle and high school girls. We talked about the abundance of poor role models for kids, especially girls, these days. I asked her to think about her leadership role – for fitness, for women’s fitness, and as an example (and role model) to the young women she instructed and trained, and dozens of other young women she might randomly encounter and influence towards a healthy lifestyle with her excellent example. She said “Wow, I never thought of it that way before.” We often don’t realize the silent influence – for better or worse – we can have on others.
While Halloween is a time of light-hearted fun, we should be aware that kids, preteens, and teens are always watching and learning from adult behavior. Our Halloween costume choices – for ourselves and our kids – can have influences that last long after the last candy bar is gone.
Look at this cartoon of a boy and a girl choosing Halloween costumes at the store. The boy has several adventurous (if stereotypical) choices available, but the girl has only one – sexy maid, sexy kitten, sexy nurse, sexy fairy.
Girls and young women: While it’s great when other people think we look good on the outside, what really counts is how we look on the inside – do we have a kind heart, do we help others, can we show our leadership in ways that help everyone, can we show our “followership” – our ability to step back, let someone else step into the leadership role, and support them? Present yourself to the world in a way that shows some of your many talents and unique strengths. Don’t be limited by the narrow viewpoints of others about who or what you should or could be capable of achieving or contributing.
What does this have to do with Halloween? The way you dress, even in costume, communicates how you want to be treated by the outside world. So have fun at Halloween AND think about the silent message about yourself that you may be sending to others.
What’s the take-away for adults? We adults have have to give our girls better Halloween costume – and life – choices. Every human has a sexual part of their being, and our children will grow into theirs soon enough. When we over-sexualize and prematurely sexualize our kids’ lives and choices, they end up believing that their sexuality is the only valuable or interesting aspect of their personality and body. Our kids are – and need to be encouraged to be – much more than that. Let’s encourage our kids’ diverse creativity and talents at Halloween and in life!
Update: No sooner did we post this, then we learned there are now sexy Sesame Street costumes. Unbelievable. http://laughingsquid.com/sexy-bert-and-ernie-halloween-costumes/
Picture credit: Andy Marlette