Costume Conundrum: Helping Your Daughter Think Critically This Halloween


GENaustin has noted before the problem with many of the Halloween costumes available for girls and women. When you look for costumes in stores, the available options are often extremely gendered, inappropriately sexualized, and very limiting.

A few examples:


See lots more examples here.

How do you help your daughter deal with the pressure to celebrate Halloween with a costume that you (and she) might not be comfortable with?  The Girl’s Leadership Institute has an excellent blog describing how important it is for girls to have adults who talk with them:


According to the Knox College study that came out last summer, the biggest determining factor in whether girls buy into early sexualization isn’t the amount of exposure that girls have to sexualized images, but the conversations that adults have with the girls when they are exposed to these images.


The blog recommends 5 questions to ask to help your daughter think critically about Halloween costumes:

1.    What are the character choices that the costume companies created for girls? For boys? What’s missing?

2.    These girls are posed in funny ways. What patterns do you see in how the photographer asked them to stand? Have you ever seen me stand like that? 

3.     What about the body language of the boy costumes? What patterns do you see in how the photographer asked them to stand? Have you ever seen me stand like that? 

4.    What must the costume companies think about boys and girls if this is how they try to sell you costumes? Is this true for the boys and girls that you know in real life?

5.    If you could be any imaginary person or creature for one day, what would be the most fun thing to be?


Help your daughter think about what she’d really like to be, if she could be anything. Maybe a Hulk Ballerina?


Or what about  a famous historical figure? Take Back Halloween has suggestions for awesome costumes based on ladies from history that you and your daughter could have fun researching and putting together.

You can also check out this Buzzfeed list of examples of empowering homemade costumes for inspiration.


Whatever your daughter decides to dress up as this Halloween, the important thing is that you help her realize she shouldn’t worry about what her peers are wearing or what costume manufacturers say she should look like. What really matters, and will end up making her have the best time, is that she wears something she genuinely likes and will have fun in. Keep that in mind, and have a great time this Halloween! 

Vanessa Wright