I was totally on board with this article until I wasn’t. Yes these “firefighter” and “police officer” costumes for little girls are sexist and awful, and I think it’s great that Raina Delisle wrote about this and succeeded in getting Value Village to remove the costumes. But some of the arguments in here are just not OK.
First off, the good stuff:
“What kind of message do these costumes send to our girls? While the boys have costumes that look like the real thing, girls are expected to dress up in spoof ensembles, thus suggesting they can’t, or shouldn’t, do the real job.”
Hell yes to that, and to this:
‘”That costume is awful and it sends the wrong message,“ [Jenny Reid, volunteer firefighter] says. “It reinforces that there are still jobs that are off-limits to women. It’s not a representation of the real job. Little girls can do whatever they want. They shouldn’t be restricted. Those types of costumes put so many limitations on them. They don’t build the self-esteem and confidence you need to be a firefighter or police officer.”’
But this is where it starts to get off track:
“Let them be little girls, have fun, be able to play in the playground and not worry about going on the monkey bars because someone’s going to see their underwear. Something like this constricts their movements, which affects the way they play.”
It’s not skirts that constrict the movement of little girls and boys who wear them – it’s other people’s attitudes towards their bodies. All kids should be able to play freely on the monkey bars without worrying that someone’s going to see their underwear because nobody should be offended by seeing their underwear in the first place. The answer to this is not ‘girls should wear pants.’ It’s stop enforcing modesty on kids and let them express themselves and their gender however they want.
And then there’s this:
“Aragon says. ‘I’m not shaming body, looks and clothes, but there’s good attention and there’s attention that you might not want. There’s the targeting of little girls by men or older boys who think they’re older because of the way in which they’re dressing.’”
How is this not shaming body, looks, and clothes?
I completely agree that we need to criticize the culture of sexualizing little girls, but we need to find ways to do this without blaming them for the behavior of boys and men.
And we need to be able to criticize awful, sexist, age-inappropriate Halloween costumes without bringing modesty into it. It’s hard, but it’s important.