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October 20, 2009

What Is It With the Slutty Halloween Costumes?

gypsy.jpg When I was just a rosy cheeked little Editorial Staff, I looked forward to Halloween with poorly concealed anticipation.

It wasn't the candy I loved. It was the chance to dress up; to pretend for one magical night that I was someone else. My brother and I never had store-bought costumes. We either made them ourselves (sometimes they were quite elaborate!) or my Mom made them for us.

One year he was a robot. His head and body were a large and small moving box spray painted silver, the arms and legs made from that telescoping dryer vent hosing painted silver to match. I think he had shoeboxes over his feet too. He even had a little door in the body to put candy in.

I was the Cat in the Hat, once. My Mom sewed my costume - it had an enormous red and white striped hat. I was also a giant grey mouse (reused costume from a ballet recital).

But most years I was a gypsy. I loved going through my Mom's closet looking for an exotic maxi skirt to wear. I loved putting on the dangly earrings, bracelet and necklace she kept in her jewelry box. They were made of smooth wood and clicked enticingly when I sashayed out in search of candy. I loved putting kohl around my eyes and drawing my curly hair back behind a rakish scarf. When I got older, I sometimes was a vampire. Not a gory, ugly vampire, but an alluring, ethereal neck nibbler a la Angelique in Dark Shadows. I was quite capable of spending hours trying to replicate her intricate hairstyles. aportrait.jpg One year, while working in the church thrift shop, I bought a seafoam green chiffon ball gown. The layered chiffon skirt floated on the night air in a ghostly manner. As I glided spookily down the sidewalk, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.

I don't think I ever dressed up as a bride or a princess. Part of the Halloween magic for me was walking on the wild side; pretending to be someone dark and mysterious.

The thing is, I understand the role of fantasy. Our dreams say a lot about things we're afraid of, things we're tempted by, the other side of us that we secretly long to surrender to. What I can't understand is how any parent would want his or her daughter fantasizing about something like this?

A reporter found a slew of slutty Hal loween costumes for kids at a Party City outlet on East Fourth Street, including:

* A Goldilocks get-up suitable for a Penthouse party: clingy gingham lace-up peasant dress with a white petticoat "that's all grown up, and you can have your porridge and more."

* A pirate costume dubbed the "High Seas Hottie" -- made in sizes to fit an 8-year-old.

* A women-in-chains fantasy costume called "Convict Cutie" that features a spandex dress and lace-up bodice.

* A "Devil Grrrl" costume for 10- to 14-year-olds that includes a flaming-red dress and tail, skanky fishnet hose and gloves and a tiny pitchfork. "This grrrl devil likes to get things heating up!" the packaging boasts.

Of course, it could always be worse.

Children have so little time in which to be innocent. I'll never forget the feeling of crisp autumn air on my face, the excitement of trying to guess which werewolf was my buddy Ralph or who was behind the pumpkin mask, the delicious eeriness of crunching leaves underfoot by the light of a full moon.

And I can't help but get the the feeling that my own generation - many of whom have never quite accepted their role as grownups - have changed Halloween irrevocably.

Posted by Cassandra at October 20, 2009 12:14 PM

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I loved Angelique. Second TV figure I ever had a serious crush on (Emma Peel being number one). For the sake of accuracy though I think Angelique was a scheming, conniving witch and not a vampire. They may have given her a vampire sub-plot but I don't remember that.

Posted by: JohnC at October 20, 2009 01:52 PM

My mother once made a Christmas Tree costume out of green rubber or something like that -- she cut it in a kind of sugar-cookie-Christmas-tree shape, and then decorated it with foil and real ornaments from the attic. I hadn't thought of that in a long time.

My wife always goes as a witch, and I always go as a cowboy. That way we don't have to dig out any costumes. ;)

Posted by: Grim at October 20, 2009 01:54 PM

Oh ye of little faith!!! :)

Diabolos had previously sent warlock Nicholas Blair (Humbert Allen Astredo) to keep an eye on Angelique's plans. When she tried to kill Adam, Nicholas, who had plans for Adam, took away her powers and she rapidly aged into her true age of several hundred years. She vanished, only to return as a vampire, a further punishment from Nicholas. (The abrupt disappearance of "Cassandra Collins" was not dwelled on by her husband, or the Collins family though). Several times, the brunette-wigged "Cassandra" had been seen by Collinwood residents in compromising positions with lawyer Tony Peterson.

You're right though - it was a minor (and completely silly) subplot.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 20, 2009 02:02 PM


[tapping foot] :)

She's going to let you have it with that rifle! Of course having such a lovely lady after you is probably an eminently satisfactory way to go :)

Posted by: Cassandra at October 20, 2009 02:03 PM

Here is a little trivia for you.

When I designed the first iteration of this site, one of the graphics I was going to use was me dressed up like a pirate/gypsy wench and 'cartoonized'. I decided I didn't want to see my own face every day though and consequently went with the trivet.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 20, 2009 02:05 PM

It's the people my age that had kids way too early. They don't want to give up their own fun, so why not just dress up your mini-me and bring 'em along? I'll never forget a woman at work telling some of the gossip section that she has to let her daughter wear whatever she wants because she doesn't want her daughter to be *gAsP* unpopular.

Posted by: GS at October 20, 2009 02:06 PM

You know, I wonder about that. My impression (speaking as someone who had her children way too early :p) has been exactly the opposite: that it is the parents who did everything late who either don't have the time or the energy to be parents.

I think the way people were raised themselves has a lot to do with how they raise their children. I was only 20 when I had my first and yet I was far stricter than any other parents I knew. But my values were the same as my parents' and my husband's parents.

What do you all think? Do you think it's age related or more of a cultural thing or what?

Posted by: Cassandra at October 20, 2009 02:11 PM

I think it has to do with the size of the Baby Boomer cohort. There were just so many Boomers compared with the number of adults that the traditional systems of authority-and-transmission broke down, and you began to have kids teaching kids how to be... well, not "adults" exactly, but older kids.

Obviously, some Boomers got raised right regardless, and some went on to lives of great responsibility and personal honor. Many, though, came up without strong adults or institutions to guide them into full adulthood; and some institutions, like Hollywood, encouraged them to linger in this adolescence because it was profitable.

As a result, among that group, adolescence rather than adulthood ("Never Trust Anyone Over Thirty") came to be thought of as the authentic mode that defined who they were as people. In spite of the propaganda that mode was extended into the thirties, and when they had kids of their own, they naturally felt that adolescence was an important phase in their children's life, worthy of extension and support (rather than a hopefull-short phase between childhood and an adulthood of responsibility and the honor that attends it).

Meanwhile, these kids hadn't even necessarily ever seen an adult -- let alone had enough of them around to transmit the values of adulthood and honor. They were raised by big kids, and any institutions they were part of -- if any at all -- were run by big kids.

Some of them are likely to rediscover the concept, however, as they learn how to bail out their retiring parents-who-never-thought-to-save-anything. I know a young lady like that now; her mother ran through two marriages, three children and a fortune, but is apt to lose everything in this recession due to massively inappropriate lifestyle expenses. Who will care for her? Not the youngest child, who is spoiled; not the middle child, who is irresponsible; but the eldest daughter who, being the only one who will shoulder the weight, is the one who will shoulder all of it. The weight her mother should have carried on her own, and her sibling's share of whatever duty they owe their mother.

Eventually, the party comes to an end, and someone picks up after it. Those people will be the new adults.

Posted by: Grim at October 20, 2009 02:26 PM

"I was far stricter than any other parents I knew"

Re: Age? Well maybe on the extremes of the way too young and the certified methane eruptions.

Otherwise, I'd say it's more along the lines of a person's cultural background tussling with their level of education/intelligence plus their environment tossed in as an delineated boundary of sorts. All of which affects their reason and patience, which in turn determines the parenting skills of most folks. That is my suspicion, if I were to make a WAG...

Posted by: bthun at October 20, 2009 02:29 PM

Yeah. I remember how silly I thought all the primal scream nonsense was in the 70s. It was barely warmed over Rousseau - if it was natural it must be good. Then they did the 'vent your anger', which even in my 20s I realized was really dumb. It doesn't make you feel better - just angrier and more out of control.


Of course, like any other self-respecting young person, I was perfectly happy to defend the parts of 70s culture that served my nefarious ends :p

Posted by: Cassandra at October 20, 2009 02:35 PM

Yeah, I think it's more cultural than age. And possibly not a little about the "hypocracy" charge.

i.e. I was a hellion, how can I punish them for doing exactly what *I* did? And we had an entire sub-population that did a *lot* of things.

Nevermind that what they did was STUPID and should not be encouraged, but hypocracy, apparently, is now the absolute worst sin that anyone can commit.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 20, 2009 02:40 PM

I've seen it the other way around: "I was the township's juvenile delinquent, so there's no way I'm going to let my boys do anything like what I did." So they found newer, even more creative ways to raise heck.

The most risque costume I can recall having was when I dressed up as a gypsy fortune teller when I was in High School. Or maybe Brunhilda, complete with (borrowed) horned helmet, braided yarn wig and breast plates made from foil pie pans and a foil catering-tray shield. I was a second-grader, and you can guess what was playing on PBS that October. :)
But my folks are pre-boomers, so obviously I missed out on being used as an accessory to help my parents relive their childhoods.

Posted by: LittleRed1 at October 20, 2009 03:08 PM

I used to answer the door on Hallowe'en Eve in flight suit, helmet, CBR protective mask and survival vest. Stuck two blue Cyalume lightsticks inside the mask so the glow would show through the eye lenses.

Every single parent shrieked and fled.

Every single kid hollered "Cool!" and stared in awe.

But most years I was a gypsy.

Except that time you were a blonde disco queen...

Posted by: BillT at October 20, 2009 03:32 PM

Except that time you were a blonde disco queen...

Start running :p

My boys dressed up as flashers one year. Wore a belted London fog raincoat, black sox, black shoes, florescent boxers, pork pie hats, and their Dad's best USMC issue birth control glasses.

I was so humiliated. But it was hysterically funny. They only flashed their friends (yeah, I'm gullible).

Posted by: Cassandra at October 20, 2009 04:12 PM

I had my kids *way too young* as well, and I usually get flack about being too strict.

The whore-wear was out in force as we shopped for costumes this year (for the second year in a row I'm too busy to make my kids' costumes, and yes, it makes me feel like a motherly-failure). Daughter #2 is going to be Hillary Clinton - we found a mask at the store and she's getting a pantsuit from Goodwill.

And that was the ONLY female costume that didn't involve whorish attire available in her size. It was gross, to say the least.

Posted by: airforcewife at October 20, 2009 04:18 PM

One year I was so poor, I glued brilliant fall leaves onto my kids' clothes and made construction paper-and-leaf crowns for them. It turned out to be the cutest thing ever.

Posted by: April at October 20, 2009 04:25 PM

I asked the proprietor of the local costume shop about the number of adult costumes compared to children and he said that 70% of sales were adult.
The inappropriate attire for children is probable just the manufactures forgetting that some of the costumes are for kids...Then again, maybe not.

Posted by: Russ at October 20, 2009 04:49 PM

I vote for 'maybe not' :p

There are significant anatomical differences between girls' and womens' clothes. Darts in the bust area, for one thing. Girls are flat chested. Women's clothes assume a normal sized bust and are eased to allow for that.

So you can't just size down a woman's dress for a girl. It's actually sewn differently - it takes effort. Besides, young girls' clothes are the mall are often incredibly sleazy.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 20, 2009 05:20 PM

I dressed up one year in all black, complete with black face and hair up under a black stocking cap. Across my chest I wore two bandoliers with mini Fruit Loops boxes attached -- each one stabbed with a plastic picnic knife and properly doused in blood -- and had on a belt lined all around with more plastic picnic knives. Then went out visiting friends with my BIL (MH was on a one yr Okinawa tour) who dressed as an uber-dork complete with USMC BC glasses -- to which we added an over-generous wrapping of tape around the nose bridge. Some of the people I worked with didn't even recognize me.

Posted by: DL Sly at October 20, 2009 05:50 PM

I will admit to - as an adult - dressing up as "BIMBO" (the female version of Rambo) at the bank where I worked.

I had cami pants/boots, a wife beater tank, ammo slung over that and even had tattoos drawn on my biceps and a machine gun that made noise. The year the spouse was in Iraq, I went to a huge Halloween ball dressed as a French dance hall girl.

But sometimes the least expensive costumes (like April's) are the best. One couple at the Ball were dressed like a fisherman(the wife) and her bait on a hook (the husband, dressed like a mayfly). I don't think I could have walked around on the end of a fishing pole all night :p

Posted by: Cassandra at October 20, 2009 05:55 PM

However, you seemed to have no problem walking around pushing the button on a whip all night....

Posted by: DL Sly at October 20, 2009 06:12 PM

The last Halloween costumes I made for my children were matching clown ones. I was working 14 hour shifts at the time and made them in one afternoon... and, at the time I thought they were incredible.

Now, when I look back at the pictures of them, I'm frightened!

The best Halloween costume my mother ever made for me was the year I was a skunk. I think she probably got some vicarious pleasure in making me the visual "Little Stinker" I actually was. It was a great costume.

I am planning to make my granddaughter a "Stinkerbelle" costume next year. I would have done it this year, but she is dead set on being a pink princess. So, pink princess she will be.

My husband got a pair of BC sunglasses this year and dadgum he looks hot in them. :-)

Posted by: Donna B. at October 20, 2009 06:30 PM

The earliest costumes I remember Mom making for me was a black cat one, and a witch. I can't recall which was first- maybe the witch? Store-bought mask of a green witch face with orange hair, with the witch hat as part of the mask. Mom sewed the black dress. The cat costume was a black leotard and tights with the black tail and the little hood with the cats ears Mom made. Tail was safety-pinned to my backside through the leotard, green eye shadow to make "cat eyes". Had another costume that could double as an angel's gown or a princess gown (it was solid white - just accessorize it differently).

There were some years I wore a dirndl - only once was it the one my Mom bought their first time living in Germany - the way that one was cut definitely called attention to "the girls" which made me very self-conscious.

One year in jr high, my best friend and I dressed up as bags of jelly beans: we put on leotards, blew up gobs of balloons and put them inside of a very large, clear plastic trash bag. We had problems with the balloons falling out through the holes we had for our legs...

Since I've grown up, Halloween isn't a big deal for me. Unlike my sisters, I haven't gotten invited to many Halloween parties, so there hasn't been a need for costumes. I did, however, make a costume one year when I was taking riding lessons, and the had a schooling show around Halloween. I won first place ;-) I made a skirt and top, and then bought a medieval lace-up bodice and a little crown of flowers at the Texas Renaissance Festival to go with the skirt and top. And, my mount had to match, so I created some "colors" for him - a black satin drape with some sorta crest on it. I've still got all that packed away. My most recent costume was post-LOTR. I made a princess dress, bought a super-long wig and some elf ear-tips. I barely fit into it at the time. In my periodic going-through-the-closet I've been doing as I lose weight, I fit into in a month or so ago, so if the need arises (unlikely), I'd actually have something to wear.

In recent years, my sisters have gone as (not both of them, mind you) a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader, a Hooters girl, a roller derby girl, and the one getting married says she's going as a bride next year, to help get her money's worth out of her wedding dress...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 20, 2009 08:45 PM

Some of us don't know - so what are "USMC BC glasses"?

Posted by: I Call BS at October 20, 2009 09:05 PM

Those 1960s era black-framed nerd glasses, I believe, or something very similar.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 20, 2009 09:16 PM

"BC" is short for "birth control." They're very, ah, rugged glasses that are issued at Boot Camp to those who have to wear glasses, ensuring that they will not break during training. They also ensure that no woman would look twice at you. :)

Posted by: Grim at October 20, 2009 09:24 PM

I was the forever pirate but my little girl, last year she went as a spider fairy! Vivid imagination that girl. Great costume.

Posted by: Curtis at October 20, 2009 09:52 PM


Posted by: Cassandra at October 20, 2009 09:56 PM

That's what I figgered.

As for "They also ensure that no woman would look twice at you," I bet that they can be removed as easily as anything else could ...

Posted by: I Call BS at October 20, 2009 10:18 PM

Being blind as a bat without corrective lenses, and having had to wear them since elementary school (think I started wearing glasses in 5th grade?), you don't get noticed when you are wearing the ugly glasses, and when you have to wear them all the time, you CAN'T "remove them as easily as anything else" because then you can't see a damn thing.... Let's just say I couldn't wait until I was allowed to get my first pair of contact lenses, at the end of my freshman year of high school. At least now, though, you can get frames that aren't completely hideous (though I should get a new pair of glasses, since the lenses in my current pair are a little worse of the wear, since I've had them for maybe close to 10 years....(I only wear them "out" when I cannot wear my contacts for whatever reason - usually having to do with allergies).

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 20, 2009 11:01 PM

I refuse to purchase Halloween costumes for a variety of reasons. First, for the reasons discussed here - I will not have my 8 year old daughter looking like someone who walks the streets down on Kuhio Avenue for a living. Second, because I am sure I can come up with something much better to drop twenty bucks on than a POS piece of clothing that my children will wear once. Then again, I borrowed my wedding dress from my SIL.

Lucy will be going as a ghost (her decision) and Ricky will be going as a motorcycle rider - both costumes put together using things easily found around our house. I might be persuaded to hit Goodwill if need be.

I am what many of my friends (and even my mother) consider to be entirely too strict. And I'm ok with that. One of the best compliments my children have ever paid me is to tell me I"m a "mean mommy". I said thank you. They didn't get it.

Posted by: HomefrontSix at October 20, 2009 11:43 PM

When I get the "You're mean!" statement, I remind the VES that it's my job. And I take my job very seriously.
She really doesn't like that answer very much. Which bothers me not in the least.

Posted by: DL Sly at October 21, 2009 12:43 AM


You and your family are in my prayers. Every day.

I won't be able to spend Halloween with my girl but I'm sure her mom will make sure that she has a wonderful experience. My little one has not confided in me what she will be this year....yet. :}

Posted by: Curtis at October 21, 2009 02:20 AM

The "You're mean!" exclamation gets a "Thank you for noticing!" response. Right now, my kids almost seem to revel in it. There is no ambiguity in this household. The boundaries are firm, clear, and concise. Not only do my children know it, their friends know it. Kids whose behavior outside of our house is atrocious are actually well-behaved (for the most part) here because they know that a.) the rules are firm and b.) I don't mess around. I've been known to call parents and ask that they pick their children up early because they couldn't behave.

I'm mean like that. Yet they keep coming back. We have fun here - but it's well-behaved fun.

Curtis ~ thank you. I'm sorry you won't be able to spend Halloween with your daughter. Will you have to miss Thanksgiving and Christmas as well? I hope not but if you do, my prayers are with you and them.

Posted by: HomefrontSix at October 21, 2009 07:41 PM

When I was 18, I went to the midnight movies one halloween dressed as a little red devil. I wore red tights and leotard with a very thin sparkly red shirt (raided from my Dad's early-70's-nightlife-closet)& red high heels & horns. Dad took one look at me & hit the ceiling. I had to put on a pair of shorts and a long jacket before he'd let me out of the house, and it was only my mom's intervention that got me out the door.

Of course, the shorts & jacket came off again as soon as I got into the theater, a fact that I will remember as my children grow....

Posted by: DdR at October 21, 2009 07:47 PM

A couple years back my boys went as elementals (earth and water)...clothes came out of our rag bag & I spent $12 on 3 cans of colored hair spray. We put it on them like a spray-on tan, spiked their hair and used my eye make up on them. They had a blast with it. This year, since I'm not going to get the sewing machine out in time, they are talking about doing the same thing this year, only with littlest brother along they can go as Earth, Wind & Fire.

Posted by: DdR at October 21, 2009 07:57 PM

Of course, the shorts & jacket came off again as soon as I got into the theater, a fact that I will remember as my children grow....


I can attest to that particular behavior, having done it innumerable times to my Dad :p

Posted by: Cassandra at October 21, 2009 08:13 PM

The "You're mean!" exclamation gets a "Thank you for noticing!" response. Right now, my kids almost seem to revel in it. There is no ambiguity in this household. The boundaries are firm, clear, and concise. Not only do my children know it, their friends know it. Kids whose behavior outside of our house is atrocious are actually well-behaved (for the most part) here because they know that a.) the rules are firm and b.) I don't mess around. I've been known to call parents and ask that they pick their children up early because they couldn't behave.

I could have written that :p

I actually coached my sons to use my meanness as an excuse if they were being pressured to do something that would get them restricted for about a million years.

Kids need limits because wherever you set the limit, they will push against it. My Dad sending me back to my room to add more clothes didn't always prevent me from shedding them as soon as he was out of sight, but it probably discouraged me from doing a few things that would have been *really* dumb.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 21, 2009 08:16 PM

Yep - we encourage our children to use us as an excuse for avoiding behaviors that will get them in trouble. My parents did the same.

This weekend, we're having some of our kids' friends over for a Silly String war. They each have to bring 2 cans of Silly String (we have extras) and eye protection. It's boys against girls ;-)

Any bets on who will win?

We like to have fun around here.

Posted by: HomefrontSix at October 22, 2009 03:21 AM

Any bets on who will win?


Posted by: BillT at October 22, 2009 06:30 AM

Any bets on who will win?

Dunno, but I am certain whoever needs to clean it up will lose.

Just make sure there are no open flames anywhere. Safety first. :)

Posted by: MikeD at October 22, 2009 10:29 AM

i feel your pain, i had a similar experience growing up.
i've been bilbo baggins, a black cat (for most of my youth), a fairy pirate, charlie chapplin, and a monkey playing the cymbols (yep that's right, i was even old enough to be at a bar for that one...one thing i'll say is it definitely provided a fast cut to those that actually had a sense of humour. oh and i'm a woman

Posted by: andrea at June 15, 2010 10:05 PM

I am so glad to know that there are others who feel the same way, i am 18 and i love to dress up for Halloween, and while other girls are buying the first skimpy thing they find, i spend days looking for a costume that doesn't say "hey i'm a slut"
for most of my live i have been frowned upon by my peers for not being "popular" or dressing like them.
i wish more girls had respect for themselves, and i have noticed that these sorts of girls tend to be getting younger, its a sad state of affairs why can't kids just be kids anymore?

Posted by: Lisa at October 27, 2010 09:07 PM

Good for you, Lisa. It can be hard, when you don't conform to what is viewed as popular. Stick to your own values and principals, though. I think you'll be happier in the long run.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 28, 2010 01:55 AM

Are there any cheap heels made in North America? Does Mexico count as North America?

Posted by: Luigi Fulk at June 26, 2014 07:37 PM