Halloween is in full force here, even if the costumes are still on hangers. By the time Chiara and I had finished our errands this morning, she had a pocketful of chocolate thanks to the bank teller, the woman at the dry cleaners, and the produce person, of all people, at the grocery store. You’d think she’d be handing out carrots or bananas or something freshly grown. Add all that to the big tin of ghost cookies that Chiara received from her Uncle Bill via UPS and you’ve got quite a sugar rush in the making before anyone even utters the words “trick or treat.”
I have to admit that, in terms of costumes, we’ve had it pretty easy this year. Noah is going to be what he was last year: a “dementor” from the Harry Potter books and movies. It’s a pretty scary-looking costume, and, if you’ve read the books, a pretty scary concept in general. Dementors basically suck your soul out of you. They take away all your joy. I look at the costume as a modern-day version of a vampire or ghost. But, alas, when I went to daily Mass at noon today, and our pastor asked Noah, who was serving as acolyte, what he was going to be, the word “dementor” seemed to echo off the chapel walls and hit me in the head over and over. I felt myself slinking down in my chair. Nothing makes dementor sound even worse than it is than saying it right from the chapel altar. It was a proud moment for me as a parent.
Our other costume choices are much more sedate and charming. Chiara is going to be a ballerina using Olivia’s outfit from a ballet dance recital years ago, and Olivia is going to be Hannah Montana using last year’s hip hop dance recital outfit, although she does have an “official” Hannah Montana wig, and we braved the ransacked costume aisles at Wal-Mart last night in search of a sparkly microphone and a sufficiently hip jacket to go with the costume. We got both after some significant searching, and, although I really despise going to Wal-Mart, I have to say that last night I was happy to be in a store that was selling costumes that look like they belong on children because that is certainly not the case elsewhere.
It was just last weekend that I opened our Sunday paper and had to hide the party store flyer advertising costumes because the outfits — even for 8-year-old girls — were so suggestive that it made my stomach turn. If you don’t have children or haven’t seen one of these flyers, let me tell you, Halloween ain’t what it used to be, folks. Children’s costumes, specifically girls’ costumes, have been hypersexualized to a point of disgrace. If you are foolish enough to allow your fourth-grader to dress up as a French maid, I don’t have much sympathy for you. But, if your daughter wants to be Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz or Snow White or some other sweet little princess-like character, beware. Many of these costumes have been trimmed down and tarted up to the point that Dorothy no longer looks fit for the yellow brick road. Today’s tiny Dorothys look ready for only one road — 42nd Street in the pre-Giuliani days.
The dresses are micro-minis. The tights have been transformed into thigh-high fishnets. Usually the midriffs are bare and the neckline is plunging. And we wonder why our kids are so sexually advanced. Gee, I don’t know where they’d get that overly sexualized view of themselves. Or, in the case of boys, of the girls next door. Of course, if you flip the page over to the adult-size costumes, you can see where your little pop-tart Dorothy might end up one day. I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore! If you are a woman and you want to buy a costume that does not look like it should come with a pole, then you’re pretty much limited to the nun costume, which in some ways is just as outrageous as all the other fantasy costumes since there are probably as many nuns in this style habit as there are nurses running around in fishnets and short-shorts. What a world. What a world.