The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

October 23, 2012

What's going on with kids' Halloween costumes?

By Amy Gilligan
Associated Press

— This Halloween, don't be too surprised if you get a trick-or-treater at your door who looks like a trollop. It's probably not the kid's fault.

I'm sorry if that sounds harsh, but you try shopping for a costume with a tall 11-year-old girl and tell me this holiday is all about goblins and candy. The genre of kids' Halloween costumes has been hijacked by harlots.

Oh, there are a lot more costumes available these days, but when you get past the little-girl sizes, all the costumes are variations on a trashy theme.

There are the traditional costumes -- nurse, witch, fairy princess -- except they are all tarted up with short skirts and low necklines. The options run the gamut from flirty to hooker.

One of the costumes -- swear to God -- is a Snow White costume with a cleavage-bearing top, a skirt that goes to mid-thigh and 5-inch red stilettos.

Now come on, we know what Snow White looks like. Are we really going to take these liberties with the Snow White outfit?

This is a literary character. If she had been wearing a miniskirt, the little dwarfs would have gotten an eye-full when they peered up at her. Those could have been a different set of dwarfs entirely: Raunchy, Bawdy, Gropey, Sleazy, Seedy, Saucy and Letch.

You will not even want to see what they've done with Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. She's clicking her heels, all right.

And I'm not just saying this because it is mid-October and I am in the middle of a homemade costume project that I have come to hate. But, yes, thank you for asking, that does happen to be my current reality.

It has become my fall ritual: The idea of making a costume sounds like fun in September; it becomes my personal hell in October. But this time my costume-making anxiety was induced by a lack of alternatives.

Forget spooky costumes. The only thing scary about these outfits is the idea of a middle-schooler disguised as a racy vampire. And whoever heard of a mummy showing that much skin? Makes no sense.

I even saw inanimate object costumes gone risque -- crayon, candy corn, ketchup bottle. Is there really a big demand for a sexy condiment outfit?

These are the regular costumes at regular stores. Go online and it gets even more interesting -- how about a sexy watermelon costume, complete with a giant bite taken out of the side? (That might not sound particularly sexy, but trust me, you're not letting your daughter wear this.)

Sexy lumberjack. Sexy Minnie Mouse. There's even one that looks way too much like a Girl Scout uniform gone trashy -- picture the green sash and little else -- eww.

Halloween has become an $8 billion-a-year industry in this country. Apparently, adult women are looking for a reason to go out to a party wearing basically their underwear.

But it would be nice if costume makers recognized that a lot of these costumes really are for young people who are more interested in funny and scary looks than lewd and lascivious.

You can email Gilligan at