Saturday, December 14, 2013

What In The World Are Sassy Stripes Anyway?

With Halloween right around the corner, and 5 kids in the house, ranging in ages from 8 months to 9-year-old twins, costumes have obviously been a topic of conversation. The twins don't actually live with us, we only get them every other weekend (they live too far to have them any more than that). The last time we had them, we took all the kids to the party store to pick out their costumes.

On the way there I explained that we would not be spending $200 on costumes, so they needed to keep the price range within reasonable limits.  We also wouldn't be loading up on optional accessories, so make sure the costume they picked had what they needed. In no way whatsoever did it occur to me that we should have the "nothing too grown-up" a.k.a sexy, talk with them. I mean come on, they are still babies!

When we got there our son picked out his Stealth Ninja costume relatively quickly. He is literally covered in black from head-to-toe. Basically his eyes are the only thing you can see.

Stealth Ninja

Next, our 8-year-old daughter picked out a Venus costume. She thought the dress was very pretty (light blue is one of her favorite colors). Again, very covering, long floor-length dress. Perfect.

Venus

One of the twins picked out a girl pirate as soon as we got there. She had said all along she wanted to be a pirate. The costume she picked was very cute, and age appropriate.  Then her sister picked out a costume called Sassy Stripes. First of all, what are we doing naming costumes for young girls sassy anything? I wasn't convinced, I felt it was borderline - I mean, the skirt was very short - but the hubby felt that because the top wasn't revealing and she would be wearing black leggings, that it would be fine.

Sassy Stripes

Now, after seeing her sister's costume, the first twin decides she doesn't want to be a pirate anymore. She has changed her mind and wants to be a Feisty Fairy. So we tell the Party City employee and she calls the costume to the person in the warehouse so she can go back and try it on. Just as we're about to go back there, hubby tells me he doesn't think he is ok with her new costume choice, and that I need to go back and look at it again - so I do.

Feisty Fairy

Now, keep in mind that the model is wearing fishnet stockings and knee-high boots (totally inappropriate for little girls), but picture it with black leggings (like her sister's costume) and black ballet flats, and the look of the costume is completely changed. Hubby wasn't having it. She had to pick out something different. She settled on a girl version of the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. I much preferred that costume anyway.

Mad Hatter

Now, if you put the last three costumes side-by-side and imagine them all with black fishnets and knee-high boots, they are ALL inappropriate - or are they? Sure, the skirts are super short, but other than that, none are extremely revealing. Now, the poses that they have the models in - hips thrust out to one side, hand on the hip, slight tilt of the head - and the names, (why is it that we feel the need to name anything to do with young girls feisty or sassy or anything of the like?) and we have what appears to be an age-inappropriate costume. Suddenly we are objectifying young girls and comparing them to skanks on their way to a frat party. (I should note that I was that skank in college - French Maid, sexy Angel - but I was also considered an "adult" at the time.)

Now, do I think any 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 year old should be wearing fishnet stockings and knee-high boots with one of those short skirts? Absolutely not. Would I prefer if these children were making homemade costumes like I did as a kid? Sure I would. I do think part of the fun of Halloween has been lost. One of the best parts was making your costume. An old sheet if you wanted to be a ghost, black pants and top and your mom's black eyeliner as face paint if you wanted to be a cat, your denim skirt, an old ripped t-shirt and some blue eye shadow and teased hair if you wanted to be a punk rocker. Now we have to spend an average of $20-$25 per costume, per child, for things like Sassy Stripes. What the hell is is supposed to be, anyway?

I know why the one twin picked out that costume. It resembles a zebra because of the stripes and she is obsessed with horses. But it doesn't look anything like a zebra, or a horse. That's like carrying an ostrich skin bag and saying you're dressed up as an ostrich. She thinks it is "cute". But why? I thought the point of Halloween was to dress up as something or someone. Maybe a person you admire, like Abraham Lincoln, or a character you love, such as one of the Ninja Turtles. Since when does wearing zebra striped leg warmers and a sleeveless hoodie actually count as dressing up as something?

Who comes up with these costume ideas? Oh, let's throw some leg warmers and a short skirt in a bag and call it Sassy Stripes. It's like the Naughty Leopard costume that Walmart pulled off its shelves after receiving complaints about its "suggestive" name. However, if you actually look at the costume, there is nothing suggestive about it at all. It is a knee length dress with a cat ear headband. Again, like Sassy Stripes, it doesn't look like a leopard, at all, but it also isn't sexy, or revealing, or anything like that.

Maybe the real question here is not why companies create costumes like this, but why do we, the general public, turn something that is ultimately innocent into something sexual? Why do people get their panties in a wad when a celebrity, like Jessica Simpson, posts a picture of their baby in a bikini? Seriously...what the hell is wrong with someone that they would get something sexual out of a picture of a baby? Last I checked, people haven't worn full body covering bathing suits since around the 1920's. 

Why can't we adjust our way of thinking? Why can't we let innocent children be just that...innocent children? 

I'll tell you why. Because there are those out there who DO objectify our babies and children. There are those sickos who will view children in Halloween costumes and babies in bikinis as something more than they are. It is up to us to protect our young. Buy them that Sassy Stripes costume, but don't pair it with fishnets and stilettos. Teach them the difference between appropriate and non-appropriate behavior. Go trick-or-treating with them. Know who your children are with - their friends, their friends parents. Know where they are going, how to get in touch with them and be sure that they can get in touch with you.

At the end of the day, we can't control the other people out there. We can, to a certain extent, control the situations that our children are in, the people they are around, what they go out of the house wearing etc, at least while they are still young. Controlling that now also sets the building blocks for a strong foundation of being able to make wise decisions when they are out there on their own. 

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