Have a Sexy Halloween: Lolita Costumes for Young Girls

Filed under: Holidays, Extreme Childhood, Opinions, Tween Culture, Teen Culture, Social & Emotional Growth: Tweens, Social & Emotional Growth: Teens, Development Health

Every year around this time, moms of young girls and teens go through a relatively new Halloween ritual: Steering our daughters away from the increasingly sexy costume choices in stores, catalogs and online costume Web sites.

This wasn't always the case. My mom's Halloween challenges involved last minute alterations, bad weather and predictable sugar-induced meltdowns. Of course, moms still wrestle with those Halloween fixtures, but the ghoulish holiday now involves negotiations and discussions our moms were mercifully spared.

When I was a kid, costumes fell into scary or sweet categories. Pop culture had a Halloween presence, but for girls in the seventies, it involved a Princess Leia long white dress and iconic braided hair buns. A few years later, Madonna's suggestive lace outfits were vying for girls' attention, but at least traditional costume themes were still in play. Nowadays, witches, pirates and vampire costumes for girls are no longer scary; in fact, most are down-right sleazy. If your pretween daughter is like mine, she's probably oblivious to the sexualized nature of the costumes she's circling in the annual catalogs, which means there's still a good chance you can successfully steer her toward a more appropriate (and inevitably, more expensive) option.

However, savvier tweens and teens are likely to be less agreeable. Why? Because too many are already steeped in our Lolita culture -- a culture that tells Disney pop stars, including the devoutly Christian, self-proclaimed virgin variety like Miley Cyrus, that the way to be taken seriously is to appear half clad in Vanity Fair or learn to use a stripper pole, an art once reserved for a certain type of woman. As a result, girls raised on "Hannah Montana" and "Gossip Girl" will find it hard to resist peer pressure to be sexy or the allure of sexual attention they are being told is the real source of their power.

So what's a mom to do? Tackle the Halloween costume dilemma in September and no later than the first week of October. It's much harder to negotiate or offer better alternatives when the shelves are bare and the only size 12 costume is a sexy fairy.

Diane E. Levin, co-author of "So Sexy, So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do About It" believes that the influence of television and the culture is so powerful in our children's lives that parents no longer have the luxury of simply giving our kids "the right answer." We also have to "help children make sense of pop culture" by entering into more serious, societal discussions with them.

Levin is right. However, if post discussion negotiations break down, I'm still the parent and it's my job to say "no" and protect my daughter from inadvertently signaling something she is far too young to comprehend. As a mom, I refuse to be an enabler for our culture's sick designs to sexualize childhood. Plus, if more of us refused to buy the products, they might just go away.

Related: Australian Girls Growing Up Fast, Raising Uncivilized Kids

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.