Costumes So Cute, It’s Scary

We went to the local Halloween superstore for some supplies. While we were browsing, my wife Patti noticed they had a “Boys Career” section, complete with doctor, fireman and astronaut costumes.

We thought it would be interesting to compare the boys’ choices with the choices the girls were given in their career section. Would the girls get equivalent options? Or would they be offered nurse, secretary and cheerleader instead?

Halloween_Boys AisleThe good news is that I was wrong. The girls were not saddled with nurses and secretaries as their only career paths. The bad news is there was no “Girls Career” section at all. None.

They did, however, have an entire section – I am not making this up – labeled “Flutter Fairy”. This was separate from the regular fairy section. I’m guessing because there is more “fluttering” involved.

What message does that send to girls about who their heroes are? About whom they should aspire to be?

Looking more carefully at the costumes, we compared the “Boys Fright” section the “Girls Fright” section. The boys were given some truly terrifying options. Freddy Krueger, Jason, Bloody Skeleton, and more.

Over on the girls’ side, there was literally nothing that was legitimately scary. From “Feisty Fairy” to a tutu-clad “Zomberina”, real terror was in short supply.

I mentioned it to Patti, “None of these costumes are scary in any real way. They all are cute.”

Halloween_Girls Aisle 2A passing employee chimed in, “Most of the scary costumes involve a mask. Girls don’t like to cover their face.”  She added helpfully, “They want people to see them.”

The superheroes aisle was not much better. Spider-Girl wore a tutu and had a “princess wand”. Batgirl was clad in head to toe HOT PINK. There were dozens of choices to help a girl look cute. But what if she wants to look tough? What if she wants to look scary? What if she wants to look professional?

It was easy for me to draw a line in my mind connecting row after row of costumes that tell little girls that the only thing that is important is that they look “cute” to the row after row of costumes that tell young women that the only way society values them is if they look “sexy”.

Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love the spookiness, the costumes and the creativity. I’ve dressed up in everything from silly, to creative, to scary. Hell, if I could pull off sexy, I might go for that, too – but I really appreciate the fact that when I go to the store, I have other choices.

I hope that someday my girls will be able to say the same.




  1. Halloween is not a big deal here in Australia, but we still have costumes for sale in many of our stores. I was seeking a cape the other day, in the hopes of throwing together a quick Deadpool goes Gotham City style costume for a con I had not prepared for, and there I encountered these costumes for little girls. Everything was pink and there were a lot of tutus. Why the heck is Spidergirl wearing a pink tutu??? There was no choice and it was incredibly disappointing!

  2. How about you just make your children’s costumes. If you have a problem with the choices, then take your child out of the store-bought identity section and do what everyone else’s parent’s did for them when they were little and ask your child what they want to be and MAKE MAGIC HAPPEN!!!!!

    1. You didn’t read the article very carefully or examine the rest of the site. We’ve made homemade superhero costumes for the girls for past three years. We’re kind of famous for it. We were just looking for gloves to complete a costume and browsed the store while we were there.

      That does not mean that there still isn’t a problem with how premade costumes are made and marketed for girls.

  3. Given I love to sew and create, and love Halloween, I thought I’d make my daughters their costumes every year. Didn’t quite turn out that way. I appreciate that you bring this up because several years ago when I took my girls to the store to look around, I felt down right pissed off about what I saw on display! No matter what the age of the female costume or theme, it was short and sexy! Yes sexy for toddler girls!! Ugh!!! I’m very curious WHY this is what is marketed? Who decides and purchases? John, find them and request an interview.

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