Why adults have so much trouble convincing girls not to wear revealing costumes
Sexy referee. Sexy tiger. Sexy hamburger. Every year, Halloween costume companies offer women a host of skimpy outfits to wear on October 31st. And every year, a lot of people—concerned parents, writers at the New York Times and CNN, cable talking heads—try to convince women, especially young women, not to buy them.
"There's always the mommy bloggers who get really angry, and then there's people like me who get really angry," says Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees and Wannabes and an expert on adolescent sexuality and self-esteem. But, Wiseman admits, the complaining about sexy Halloween ends with "limited success." Young women keep buying, and wearing, suggestive costumes.
That's probably because most of the anxiety about the sexualization of Halloween comes from adults—the very people teenagers are inclined to ignore. If sexy Halloween is going to die, girls themselves will have to kill it.
Perhaps the most persistent argument that adults make against sexy Halloween is that women in revealing costumes are asking for trouble. The idea that wearing an abbreviated costume makes a woman a target of unwanted sexual attention from men is repeated endlessly in columns and on blogs. "Dressing girls like grown women for Halloween communicates that they have the sexuality of adults, in the bodies of children," a sociologist told CNN in a recent article. "A girl dressing up as a sexy nurse will only prompt men to ask her when she starts giving out sponge baths," a Tulane student warned her classmates in the campus newspaper last year.