Sexy Halloween Costumes Reveal the Truth about Girls’ Toys

Sexy Disney Princess costumes

Do you object to sexy Halloween costumes for little girls?

When you compare the “Little Leopard” costume for young girls to the adult “Sexy Leopard” costumes, do you cringe?

Sexy Leopard costumes

Sexy Leopard costumes for adult women.

Little Leopard.

Little Leopard costume for girls ages 3 to 12.

When you see children’s classic Disney Princess costumes placed literally steps away from Sexy Disney Princess costumes, are you outraged?

Classic Disney Princess costumes

Classic Disney Princess costumes for young girls.

Sexy Disney Princess costumes

Sexy Disney Princess costumes.

When confronted with Monster High costumes for girls ages 4 to 14, are you appalled because they are far too sexy for our children?

Monster High costumes

Monster High costumes for girls ages 4 to 14.

girls' Halloween costumes

Then I’d like to point something out: You should object to the sexualized aesthetic of girls’ dolls, too.

Here’s what I’m thinking. The internet is full of objections to sexy Halloween costumes for little girls. Just a few weeks ago, Walmart’s “Naughty Leopard” costume generated so much outrage that the retailer was forced to pull the costume from shelves–and rightfully so.

But when critics call out dolls like Monster High, Ever After High, Equestria Girls, Fairy Tale High, and Bratz for being too sexualized for girls, people rush to defend them.  Sexy dolls for little girls are so common, so ubiquitous, folks can’t see them clearly anymore.

They say: “Stop reading so much into it! Girls see these dolls as cute and fun. It’s just fantasy. If you think these dolls are ‘sexy,’ then wow–you’re the one with the problem. Get over it.”

I should know: As a children’s culture critic, I’m on the receiving end of these comments all the time.

But these dolls? They are dressed in outfits exactly like the sexy Halloween costumes. There is no difference between what popular fashion dolls wear and the little girls’ Halloween costumes that everyone objects to.

If anything, the dolls are even worse.

What’s going on, then? Why do we object to the Halloween costumes and not the dolls?

When we actually see these tawdry outfits on our children, we are horrified. We have become desensitized to dolls for four-year-olds that look like prostitutes, but when real children wear the same get-ups, the scales fall from our eyes. Suddenly, we can see the unvarnished truth about children’s culture, and it is awful.

So I’d like to suggest a new litmus test for girls’ dolls. Would you want to see your daughter, niece, or granddaughter in a Halloween costume based on the doll’s attire? No? Then harness that insight. See the doll for what it is: A sexualized item with no business in a child’s toy box. Just say no to sexy Halloween costumes–and say no to sexy fashion dolls, too.

Rebecca Hains is a media studies professor at Salem State University. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

13 Comments on “Sexy Halloween Costumes Reveal the Truth about Girls’ Toys

  1. My daughters are big into Monster High and I look at it as a fun way for them to be their favorite character. Not as a sex symbol….. So do I agree that they are to racy? NO, I DON’T! Will I let my daughters continue to play and dress like a monster high? ABSOLUTELY YES!!!!

  2. Soooo, can avoid the hypocrisy by saying I don’t think either the costumes or the dolls are inappropriate?

  3. I was appalled while costume shopping for my 10 year old girl this year. There were princess costumes for little kids, then it skipped straight to skimpy. Princess or prostitute? Those were the choices. Horrified!

    • So if you dress sexy, you are a prostitute? That comment coming from a woman makes me sick. You are doing it to yourself!

      Dressing up and playing grown up is normal and ok for children. Sometime it means dressing up as a business woman like mom does when she goes to work. And sometimes it means putting on makeup and dressing up sexy like mom does when she goes out with dad on Friday night. It’s only wrong if you want it to be.

      Also remember: Girls are not raped or harassed because of the way they dress. When a men is fucked up enough to go there, the girl (or boy for that matter) could be wearing a burqa. It wouldn’t make a difference.

      Saying the way they dress makes them more likely to be a victim or a prostitute is like saying it could be their fault if they end up a victim.

      So if my daughter is victim of being called a prostitute by you, I want to make it clear it’s not her fault. It’s yours!

  4. Pingback: The Great Doll Hunt | Lynley Stace

  5. this crap started w/ the Bratz dolls.i was appalled when I 1st saw them.between the makeup and the outfits….!!!I used to call them the whore dolls!even Barbie has crossed the line!for those parents who don’t have a problem w/ this for their girls?just wait until your daughters develop and they head for school in these outfits or wear them to a store and have grown men give them the old leering, up & might change your mind.

  6. Feminism has forever lowered the bar on modesty. At least if you believe wikipedia (which I do in this case).

  7. I don’t think the Disney kids costumes are bad at all. Most of the dresses are knee length or longer… A little cold for the pacific NW but that’s it!

  8. Dear Dr. Haines,

    You bring up a very good point about the ironies of our society. Little girls want to look “sexy”, just as I did when I was about 11, and we’re HORRIFIED, but the kids are ONLY trying to dress like the dolls that we keep BUYING for them.

    I feel slightly guilty for supporting Mattel’s sluttier aesthetics, as I own WAY more fashion dolls than a lot of other women do, but, then again, I ALSO don’t have any children to influence.

    I know, though, that if I DID have children, I wouldn’t want any children of MINE to be exposed to the outfits of certain dolls. I mean, it’s RIDICULOUS, all of these Barbie and Monster High dolls wearing skirts that won’t even cover their butts when they’re SITTING DOWN!

    I recently ordered a super cheap Monster High doll, because I wanted a body for one of the Create-A-Monster heads….Sooo, this doll arrives, and underneath her skirt is her, um, UNDERWEAR? Well, ACTUALLY, her underwear are just one tiny ribbon, which I had to RE-ADJUST on her, so that she’d look somewhat modest. I wouldn’t want any child of MINE playing with a doll like that!

    I can totally understand Mattel’s desire to be a little bit cheap, with regards to the amount of fabric that they’re using, but couldn’t they at LEAST give their female dolls enough in the way of skirts so that their rear ends would be covered whenever they sat down?

    I am also slightly angry about the general marketing strategy for “Monster High”. The MH definition of “friendship” doesn’t seem to be “Kindness, honesty, loyalty, and a desire to work together!”, but, rather, “A unification through the ideals of cliquishness, boy-bashing, and fashion-obsession!”

    What a pity, since these ghouls COULD use their Mattel-given talents to enhance a BETTER kind of message about friendship. Frankie is smart. Draculaura is loyal. Clawdeen is afraid of nothing. Lagoona is sweet. Cleo won’t settle for less than the best. If these ghouls really demonstrated the TRUE components of friendship, they’d be really SUPER role models for girls!

    Well, thank you for writing such an insightful article.


    • NOTE: When I said, “just as I did,” I meant that I WANTED to dress sexy when I was a kid, and NOT that I was actually ALLOWED to DO so! LOL!

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