Src: Flickr/Pink Sherbet Photography
I remember when October 31 used to be this magical time of year after the autumn leaves had fallen, leaving a technicolor, crisp blanket to crunch under our feet as we collected our candy bounty from neighborhood houses. We often slipped on a plastic mask and un-breathable costume to dress up as our favorite cartoon characters, like Spiderman or Tweety bird (yes, I was a repeat offender), Or we’d take it a step further by painting our faces, wearing a black pointy hat and black robe and going as a witch (again, yes I was a repeat offender) or slapping on a tail, furry ears and painted whiskers and going as a sweet (not sexy) kitten. What of today’s youth though—living in the period of “I want to sex you up?”
I fondly remember those days as a time of a particular sort of innocence and sweetness that I’ll never get back again—but I at least have the pictures to prove they actually existed. Today’s youth are encouraged to skip that sweet rite of passage with racy costumes meant for grown-up parties or even adult, intimate playtime. Now these outfits are being tailored and specifically pushed to little girls.
Are Our Young Girls Getting Too Hot for Halloween
A Care Bear Cheer Bear Costume for girls is almost an exact replication of the sexy maid’s outfit for women, and it features a little girl with Farrah Fawcett hair, blowing the camera a kiss. Dark Wing Bat Costume girl is appropriately goth, with large buckles across the front of her short dress made to look like a corset. The dress ends abruptly in the ruffles of a black tutu skirt. Gauze wings, tight black leggings and lacy glovelettes complete the look. The model who can’t be older than 10 is covered in shiny pink lipstick, deep eyeliner and mascara. While milder in comparison, Skelanimals Kit the Kat Costume has a young girl with glossy lips, making seductive eyes at the camera, wearing sheer sleeves, sheer leggings and sheer overlay to her skirt. While the outfit itself could be seen as kind of cute, I can’t help thinking that, with the gestures, make-up and demeanor of these child models, these costume companies are using sex on little girls to sell their wares; the question is whether that angle is intended for kids or their parents buying the outfit.
Can We "Just Say No" to Slutty Halloween
In her recent blog post, Just Say No to Sluttoween, Jenny Witte reminds us who today’s girls look up to and emulate. We’ve seen the whole backlash over the former Disney princess and little girl idol Miley Cyrus’s racy-for-raciness-sake VMA performance. We have Katy Perry, whose mega hit “Last Friday Night” talks about being blacked out and having a ménage a trois (remember her target audience typically really is tweens and teens). Witte recommends a more hands-on approach for parents to help mediate their children’s experience with and use of media. She emphasizes the need of educating both girls AND boys to go beyond gender stereotypes in their skills, interests and behaviors. On a broader scale, we as a society must work on creating a society that backs down on the sexualization of children and set restrictions on corporations marketing sex to kids.
As critical media consumers, we need to realize we have the power over the media we consume. It need not be the other way around. We can choose not to buy toys or goodies that use children's favorite TV characters to push products. We can ask more of our famed athletes, like LeBron James, Peyton Manning and Serena Williams, who peddle junk food products to our kids. We can choose not to be passive about our participation with media.We can choose not to buy magazine’s that bombard us with unrealistic body images the propagate low self-worth in women. We can boycott artists whose albums largely focus on "pimps and hos," physical and verbal abuse. We can decide not to play video games that desensitize us to the very real repercussions of violence.
Musicians Speak Up About Selling Sex to Kids
Last week, Charlotte Church gave a speech at BBC 6 Music’s annual John Peel Lecture, which spoke to the use of female sexuality to sell product, specifically in the music business. She said the target demographic for hypersexualized music, in its various expressions, is getting increasingly younger.
“I support Annie Lennox’s plea for ratings on videos. If Rihanna had not grown up watching the videos of the 90s, then it might not be quite so essential for her to portray her sexuality so luridly, so constantly, and so influentially upon the next generation, Church said.
In an open letter on Facebook, Eurythmics’ Annie Lennox wrote, "It seems obvious that certain record companies are peddling highly styled pornography with musical accompaniment. As if the tidal wave of sexualized imagery wasn’t already bombarding impressionable young girls enough…It’s a glorified and monetized form of self harm."
Src: Facebook, Annie Lennox
Lennox later went on to write, “There is absolutely nothing ‘wrong’ about our sexuality or sensuality per se – But if a performing artist has an audience of impressionable young fans and they want to present a soft porn video or highly sexualized live performance, then it needs to qualify as such and be X rated for adults only.”
Or parents might take a more active role in monitoring what their kids are listening to and watching. Yes, I know—much easier said than done. But at least, parents can foster an open dialogue with their children to help them process the myriad of images and messages they face on a daily basis.
“If the power was taken away from sex in pop by making it harder for younger viewers to access it, Church said, “then maybe the focus would shift to making works of artistic beauty and conscience.”
And maybe, just maybe, the magic of Halloween for children can be restored.