Langenbacher: Halloween poses set of problems for mom of young teen

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Halloween: a fun, scary, young holiday. Costumes range from creative and frightening to cute and … sexy?

Having a tall daughter makes every Halloween costume hunt a challenge for our family. She is now 13 years old and nearly 5 foot six inches tall. She outgrew the “girls” sizes in costumes about two years ago, and ever since then, we struggle each year to find an age-appropriate Halloween costume.

We have searched numerous of those temporary costume stores that pop up in vacant businesses every fall, and have found the same type of inventory at each one. The standard woman’s costume has four parts: short skirt, bare midriff, low-cut tight tops and knee-high boots. Optional accessories include fish net stockings and a push-up bra. Apparently, in the costume world terms like sassy, sultry and seductive equate to tight, short and inappropriate.

These types of costumes give parents of young, tall girls little choice in appropriate attire. Costumes for pre-teen and teenage girls are just too sexy. Because manufacturers are flooding the market with these types of costumes, girls are getting the wrong message about what is “in.” However, girls are feeling like they need to buy the cool costumes for fit in at school and when they go out trick or treating with their friends.

One costume shop advertised costumes for people of all ages. What we found in the teen section included titles such as: “Nerdy and Flirty Schoolgirl” and “Smokin’ Hot Firefighter.” We also found an entire section of sexy witch costumes with confusing names like “Broomstick Babe” and “Witch Body Shaper” – although my daughter and I had no idea what that means.

One manufacturer makes no bones about it, letting people know by their company name exactly what they are all about. “Legs Avenue” costumes have an entire section in several of the temporary costume shops which have popped up in and around our city. Apparently, each costume is designed to show a person’s entire leg.

Some online costume suppliers offer “tween” costumes which are definitely more appropriate than the adult versions of the same costumes. The skirt hemlines are a few inches longer, and the necklines aren’t quite as plunging. However, the selection is much less varied, and the prices are sky high. The tween selection includes crayon costumes in every imaginable color, the prettiest monsters I’ve ever seen, and anything that includes the word “cutie.”

We thought that pre-Halloween would be a great time to find a Cinderella costume for our daughter’s upcoming school drama performance. The teacher is requiring the girls to wear dresses that are at least tea-length, and preferably floor length. In the stores near our town, we did not find any dresses for our daughter that fit those requirements. We did find a few online costume shops where we could get a beautiful dress for about $200. One site only offers two princess costumes for teens: Snow White – which is sold out, and a Gothic Fairytale Princess. I’m not even sure what that is.

We did find plenty of super tight Disney princess costumes with a skirt that is about 4 inches long, and would make Walt Disney himself roll over in his grave. The only floor-length costumes I could find were those intended to be gruesome or dead, and those that are supposed to be a man – as in pants.

Psychologists, parenting web sites and magazines all agree that the overly sexualized costumes are sending the wrong message to young girls. And, they make helpful suggestions like “Halloween is a great time to get creative and parents and teens could certainly work together to create an appropriate costume by hand.” The problem in our house is finding the time to do that. Between sports, school, and community activities, we barely have time to run to the store and look for a costume – let alone make one from scratch.

So, even though she would think it’s “so uncool,” perhaps our daughter could dress as Darth Vader, or in any type of costume that requires pants. I guess that would solve the problem.

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