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Why Do Halloween Costumes For Teenage Girls Have To Be Slutty?

10/28/2015 05:32 EDT | Updated 10/28/2016 05:12 EDT
Alena Ozerova via Getty Images
Woman with masquerade mask

When my girls were little, they were content to wear old dance costumes and be "princesses" for Halloween. Then, as they got a bit older, everything had to be a "scary-something": a scary bride, a scary doll, a scary witch. It was pretty easy to just add a little powder to make a white face and add a trickle of fake blood down the corners of their little mouths. I always hated the scary costumes, but it was better than the alternatives available for their age now.

Today, every costume for teenage girls could be prefaced with the word "slutty."

And I hate the word "slutty." I hate saying it and I hate writing it.

But it's true.

A slutty nurse, a slutty police officer, a slutty Raggedy Ann doll -- almost every costume of every character you can think of that is available to purchase is provocative. And the fact that this has become the norm just irritates me even more. I totally get that teenage girls often want to look "pretty" -- I am a woman after all -- but doesn't that take away from what Halloween is supposed to be all about?

While adult women are able to make their own educated choices around wearing sexy or provocative costumes, teenage girls are not. As a parent, it is extremely hard to navigate this because this is what is available, and this is what girls are wearing. This is what their friends are wearing! Every Halloween shop and website sells the same thing: sexualized costumes for girls, with sizes starting at ages eight to 10.

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Photo: Scarlett Ballantyne

Even more annoying is that the male version of many of these same character costumes are created differently -- not sexualized in any way. A police officer is a police officer. A baby is a baby. A nurse is a nurse -- though I couldn't actually find one male nurse costume in my online search. That is another problem in itself.

If I am being completely honest, there is a teeny-tiny bit of me that thinks it should be okay. When you see your teenage daughter in a grown-up outfit, there is a bit of pride that swells up in you. But I know that I see my own child for all that she is, and all that she can become. Seeing how my girl has grown up and become a young adult is rather poignant. But she is my daughter.

To the outside world, I realize that it is different.

Provocative Halloween costumes look sexy on her, as the costumes are intended.

I think the biggest issue that I am afraid of is the potential for online bullying that can occur when young women wear these costumes. As my teenage daughters tell me, there is plenty of body-shaming that occurs online when a girl posts a photo to any of her social accounts that shows a little cleavage or midriff.

"But why?"

"It's like inviting people to make negative comments, Mom."

My teenage daughters are already aware that body-shaming happens when you dress provocatively.

So, how do parents manage the mixed messages our girls are getting with the availability of provocative costumes?

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