Sexy Devil, Pirate, Police Officer? Talking Halloween Costumes with your Teen


You’re walking through the store with your daughter, looking for Halloween costumes, and she points to the cat costume. The one that looks more like a shirt than a dress, has a low cut neckline and hugs her body like a glove.

“Uhh, are you sure that’s the one you want?”

How do you explain to your daughter that this costume sends the wrong messages. It’s not appropriate for a girl her age. She should just dress up as a crayon again.

This isn’t a new phenomenon. The whole “Sexy ____” costumes have been around for ages. Maybe it’s just that the definition of sexy has changed, for adults too. Fashions are more revealing the other 364 days of the year, so Halloween gets a boost too.

But how do you explain to your teen that just because stores are selling these costumes it doesn’t mean that she should be wearing them?

Dr. Kris Gowen, an expert in teen sexuality at Portland State University, thinks that parents should ease into the conversation as opposed to jumping straight to saying no.

“One of the main things I believe parents should ask their daughter is why she wants to be a particular entity for Halloween,” Dr. Gowen said. “Having a discussion around it – talking about the pros and cons of a particular character and what that character represents (power, fun, popularity) can result in a more balanced discussion instead of just refusing.”

Then you may be able to try to compromise with a less sexualized version of the character. If that doesn’t work though, it may be time to talk about what it means to look “sexy.”

“Ask how other girls are dressing at school and the reactions those girls get – positive, attention getting, name calling (could be good and bad reactions) and see where motivations lie,” Dr. Gowen said.

Make sure that you talk it out with your teen. Since these sexy Halloween costumes are the norm, it may be hard to get your teen to understand where you’re coming from. Don’t alienate her and don’t patronize her. Listen to her, and express your concerns in a way that says, “I care,” not, “How could you!”


One Response to “Sexy Devil, Pirate, Police Officer? Talking Halloween Costumes with your Teen”

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