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Halloween Costumes: The Creative vs. Commercial Dilemma

Halloween Costumes: The Creative vs. Commercial Dilemma

I have a confession…I hate Halloween. It’s not the tradition of trick or treating. I actually love walking around in the dark with a flashlight visiting with my neighbors. I like handing out candy and seeing all the kids dressed up…

It’s this creative vs. commercial costume battle that stresses me out.

Scarecrow Halloween Costume for KidsI really-really-really want to be one of those moms whose kids’ costumes are unique and clever. My mom was one of those parents. We had a “dress up” bin that we dragged down from the attic each year with all sorts of accessories that enhanced our homemade costumes. We were everything from scarecrows to clowns to a princess (my great grandmother’s old dress and fake jewelry not the Disney “fab five”).

But I’m not. And I could list a dozen excuses why I don’t make my kids’ costumes. What it ultimately comes down to is that it’s just easier on so many levels. I don’t have to run around finding all the components of an outfit. I don’t have to spend hours convincing my stubborn daughter to see my vision for a cat costume using clothes in her closet. I don’t have to think…really, it’s a no brainer.

I’ve mostly been okay with this strategy. Until this year. Somewhere between preschool and kindergarten Olivia decided that she wanted to be a vampire. But not a traditional vampire, oh no, a vampiress complete with a lacy black bodice and skirt. Granted we are no way allowing any of the “inappropriate for her age” outfits but it has me worried on a larger scale. I’m suddenly having flashbacks to when I read, Cinderella Ate My Daughter, and thought I had found the right balance between her love of all things pink and the real-world experiences that would ground her in a realistic view of herself.

But maybe I was wrong. Maybe I have been feeding into this world of commercialism. And now I’m worried my daughter is heading down the wrong path. What Cinderella author Peggy Orenstein, describes comes after the princess phase: “A whole new array of products aimed at girls who tire of their magic wands – dolls with their hottie-pink passion for fashion,conveyed attitude and sassiness, which, anyone will tell you, is little-girl marketing-speak for sexy.”

And frankly I’m stumped about whether this is just another childhood phase or that Olivia really is internalizing the marketing messages portraying a skewed reality about how girls are supposed to look and act.

So I hate Halloween…really, really hate it. It’s the one day a year that parents can get a glimpse of how their children might envision themselves. Or maybe it’s a lot more simple than that – kids simply having fun play acting. I just know I would feel better if she wanted to dress like a cat and I had the creative energy and time to make her outfit.


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