Girls Halloween Costumes: Then & Now
BY JESS MOUNEIMNE
Personally I feel South Africa has gone into overload this year where celebrating this holiday is concerned. I remember dressing up and knocking on a few doors back in my school days, but it was never the ‘done thing’ and party shops never used to go as crazy at this time of the year.
Trying to organize my two year old’s birthday party this year was particularly difficult,as the likes of King Cake were super distracted with pumpkins and witches- and the shops were pumping!
Whether we agree on the Halloween thing or not, one thing we will certainly agree on is how costumes have changed for girls over the years.
Rewind 20 years, and you’ll find that Halloween wasn’t always this way. Patterns for kids’ costumes sold in the 80s and early 90s, and currently available on sites like Etsy and Amazon, show longer hemlines, notably more coverage, and a marked absence of pleather. “Princesses” wore long dresses back then; “cats” were outfitted in full bodysuits.
Just two decades later, however, the costumes for sale show how far the meaning of Halloween has shifted. Instead of competing for the scariest or silliest costumes on the block, women (and, as “evil fizz” found, young girls) are vying for the sassiest and most risqué getups.
The whys are many: Studies show girls are being fed sexualized identities at younger ages; there is an increasing demand for costumes that are “of the moment” (Sexy Big Bird anyone? We mean before Sesame Street Workshop put the kibosh on that); the Internet means marketers must push the boundaries in order to stand out.
In recent decades, the exponential growth of the Internet has led to an “extremification” of nearly everything in society, Lisa Wade, associate professor of sociology and founder of Sociological Images told the Huffington Post. “Things are more violent, things are weirder, the satire is sharper and we see this rise in sexualization,” she said.
HuffPost blogger, David Valdes Greenwood is trying too, telling his 4-year-old daughter she couldn’t dress up as Madonna one Halloween. “Until she is old enough to have a more mature understanding of the messages that can sent by what she wears and how she looks, it our job to help her understand what is (or isn’t) appropriate and why,” he wrote.
Still, it’s a battle most parents seem to be losing. Comparing costumes of the 80s and 90s with those of today, the contrast is stark and startling. Click through the gallery below to see what princesses, heroes and animals looked like back in the day vs. what they’ve transformed into now. Then, in the comments, tell us, what is your child dressing up as for Halloween?
Date posted: October 29, 2012
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