What do Halloween costume trends say to young girls?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween costumes for young girls then and now
Sociologist Lisa Wade says on her Sociological Images blog, “It’s become a tradition, every year about this time, to have a national conversation about the rise of sexy Halloween costumes, especially for little girls.  But are they really sexier than before?”

You can judge for yourself by scrolling down through the contrasting side by side photos she has posted.  The pictures come from an article by Jessica Samakow, written for the Parents section of the Huffington Post.   Samakow, (who quotes Wade on the “extremification” of our society) points to research showing that “girls are being fed sexualized identities at younger ages; there is an increasing demand for costumes that are ‘of the moment.'” Media influence is strong, she explains, and marketers are “pushing the boundaries.” Smakow refers to one disturbing study that showed that girls as young as six or seven were already thinking of themselves as sex objects. The issue, then, is far deeper than keeping up with the times and having fun with costumes.  It’s about the message young girls are getting— a message that pushes them to grow up too soon, a message that says the worth of girls and women is all tied up with being seen as pretty, popular, desirable—and yes, sexy—when they have so much else to offer to the world.

Related:  Here are a couple of other examples from Sociological Images showing the sexualization of little girls.  Here’s a video of a toddler in a beauty contest, posted by sociologist Gwen Sharp, and another series of photos from French Vogue posted by Lisa Wade. Wade says, “The thing is: the adultification/sexualization of young girls is paralleled by an infantilization of adult women.  This adds up to a conflation of women and children which serves to uphold prejudice against adult women and the exploitation of girls. “

Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni (1935-2024) was an independent scholar, writer, and editor, and the author or coauthor of nine books. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992). Letha served as editor of Christian Feminism Today in both its former print edition (EEWC Update) and its website for 19 years until her retirement in December 2013.