Kristen Fyfe

On the eve of Halloween, stories are dotting the mainstream media landscape about the sleazy costumes for young girls this trick-or-treating season.

From a front page article in The Washington Post, to a feature on Newsweek.com, and similar stories in outlets ranging from phillyBurbs.com, WKBW-TV in Buffalo, New York, and even the Globe and Mail in Canada, the plethora of skanky, smutty costumes seems to be the story du jour this Halloween.

* Page 18 of the November 5 print edition of Newsweek: “One version of a Little Bo Peep costume for preteens, on sale at Buy Costumes.com, has a corset and knee high stockings. An Army-girl costume is labeled ‘Major Flirt.’”

* Page 1 of the October 30th Washington Post: “Gabby Cirenza wanted to be a referee for Halloween. The outfit she liked had a micro-mini black skirt and a form-fitting black and white-striped spandex top held together with black laces running up the flesh-exposing sides. She looked admiringly at the thigh-high black go-go boots that could be bought as an accessory. And she thought the little bunny on the chest was cute. ‘Absolutely not,’ said her mother, Cheryl. ‘That is so not happening.’ Gabby is 11.”

The costume choices for young girls this year are making parents cringe. Several of the media reports on this story focused on the tug of war between parents and daughters. Some reported that parents caved in to the kids’ desires, others like the mom and daughter featured in the Post’s article detailed the parents’ victory for modesty.

However, all of the media outlets report the same sad bottom line. As The Washington Post stated: “Bawdy Halloween costumes … have become the season’s hottest sellers in recent years.”

The online Newsweek feature took the story into a broader cultural context. The story quoted a costume buyer from “catalog giant Lillian Vernon,” who said the sexy costumes are “simply reflections of pop culture.” The buyer, Jackie MacDonald, followed up by saying, “We don’t want to say they’re sexier, just more confident.”


Kristen Fyfe

Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.

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