Americans are expected to spend nearly $2 billion on Halloween costumes by the time trick-or-treating wraps up—almost twice as much as they spent in 2003. And the increasing popularity of sexy costumes for adults is spilling over to kids’ outfits—with catalogs offering skimpy outfits for girls as young as 6—and has made the annual parent complaints about “slutty” outfits louder than ever this year, according to parents and retail experts.
What the commentators said
The days when Halloween was “a homemade kind of holiday” are long gone, said Brigid Schulte in The Washington Post. Once the night became big business—the bill for all our costumes, decorations, and candy will reach $5 billion this year—it was only a matter of time before somebody started selling fishnet tights for first-graders. “The Halloween costume trend is not only leading to tense mother-daughter standoffs, but it is also part of a far larger worry that young girls are becoming sexualized.”
“With adolescent girls parading around in short-shorts that say JUICY across the bottom, and every younger girls aspiring to be a diva of some sort,” said Matthew Phillips in Newsweek.com, it was only a matter of time before little trick-or-treaters started looking like “ladies of the night.” The problem is, this isn’t a once-a-year thing—it’s part of society’s relentless push to make girls judge each other by “sexiness and body image.”
Costume parties have been reduced to “Slutty Outfit” contests, said the Canadian National Post’s Posted Toronto blog. How positively edgy. “You're all sexy cops or sexy nurses. Please rescue me from your unoriginality.”
Get used to it, said David Frum in American Public Media’s Marketplace. “Halloween today ranks as the fourth most lavish national holiday event, behind Christmas, the Superbowl, and New Year's Eve.” The fastest spending growth is coming from college students, who have turned Halloween into a raunchy, one-night Spring Break. And it’s cheaper for merchants to lure in shoppers by tacking the word “sexy” onto the names of their costumes than it would be to take out ads.