You'd Be So Pretty If...

How to teach your daughter to love her body—even when you don't love your own.

Halloween costumes: Is sexy empowering?

It's the rare 13-year-old who's ready to make that decision.

Earlier this week, I wrote a post on my You'd Be So Pretty If... blog about my daughter's search for a Halloween costume. Given the reaction it got, I'm reprinting it here:

I'm not usually a big ranter -- in public, anyway -- but at what point did a "holiday" for children become all about women looking sexy?

Last week, I took my kids to a local Halloween store (one of those places that moves in temporarily in the month before Halloween) to look for costumes. My son, who's 11, made a beeline for the scariest costumes he could find, and ended up choosing this freaky, demented-looking jester mask that gives me the willies every time I look at it.

But I digress...

My daughter (who has hated Halloween and all things scary since the day she was born) and I spent some time in the women's costume area, where she planned to examine the happier costumes -- she's still on the fence about whether she's going to take part in festivities at all -- in case she found one she liked.

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

What we saw in that department was even scarier.

My family is Scottish, so when I spotted a plaid kilt, I said, "Hey, look at this one." I walked up to the package, took one look and said, "Never mind."

My 13-year-old will not be dressing as the "Sexy Scottie" this year.

We combed through dozens of costumes, but she left the store empty-handed. There wasn't much choice for a young lady who's beyond fairy princesses, but not quite ready for "sexy sorceress."

When I got home, I searched online a bit where I found -- I kid you not -- plenty of choices like "sexy dirty cop," "sexy school girl," "Playboy Touchdown Tease" and -- wait for it -- "Captain Booty Pirate."

Sigh.

Before you call me a stick in the mud, I realize that Halloween is about make-believe and, to some degree, maybe even living out a fantasy version of yourself. But from looking at some of these costumes, it's pretty clear whose fantasy it is.

I'm still holding out hope for the "I feel great about who I am and I don't need you to tell me what that should look like" costume.

But I guess it's too hard to fit all that on a package.

Quite a few people commented on the post, many of whom seem to have had similar experiences. One commenter in particular noted, "For some reason, people think it's empowering for women to reveal it all."

Well...what do you think?

There's no denying that, as a woman, there is a certain sense of power that comes from knowing all eyes are on you. But feeling like all eyes are on you can also be very uncomfortable when you don't feel good about your body or the way you look. Motivation and intention come into play -- if you're proud of your body and like to show it off, then sure, I guess a revealing costume could be empowering. But if you're dressing that way because you feel it's expected or it's fulfilling someone else's needs, it seems like that would be anything but empowering.

One thing I do know for sure, though: It's the rare 13-year-old who's ready to make that decision.

Dara Chadwick is the author of You'd Be So Pretty If… :Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies—Even When We Don't Love Our Own.

more...

Subscribe to You'd Be So Pretty If...

Current Issue

Just Say It

When and how should we open up to loved ones?