Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tricks or treats, Batman!

My youngest, Neil, has a love/hate relationship with Halloween. He claims it's his favorite holiday because he loves dressing up, carving pumpkins, and getting candy. Nevermind the fact that he eats only 1-2% of what he actually collects. At the same time, he hates Halloween because it's scary. Trying to take him shopping this time of year is hell. He wants to peek at the Halloween decorations in the store, but he won't go near them. I can't even get him to skip the scary stuff and go look in the candy aisle. He hates it and I've had to literally drag him to get him past some displays.

We've been getting a lot of Halloween related catalogs in the mail lately. Most are from companies like Oriental Trading or Party Express, and they all have special Halloween issues. Neil loves these, even though there are some scary looking costumes and decorations in them. He's taken to collecting them all and will sit and look through them for a long time. I don't understand it, but maybe it's therapeutic for him. Most of the catalogs aren't that bad. A few days ago we got one that's kind of out there. I opened it up and the first half of it were adult costumes. I'm not talking your average adult Halloween costumes. These are the ones you'd expect to see in a Fredrick's of Hollywood catalog. They're suggestive, but there's no nudity or anything, so I went ahead and let him look through it. Fortunately, Neil is 7 and skipped through all the adult stuff and went right to the kid's costumes.

However, even the kid's costumes are getting way suggestive, especially for little girls. It used to be the sexy costumes were for adults, but they quickly marketed them for teens. Now it seems they're marketing them for even the youngest kids. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't let my girls dress up in some of these costumes. Too many weirdos venture out on Halloween night, thinking they can get away with anything. It always blows me away to see a couple of preteen girls out trick-or-treating by themselves dressed in these adult-fantasy outfits. It's one thing to dress up as Little Bo Peep -- but it's another thing to wear platform shoes and thigh-high stockings. That's fine for adults, but in my opinion, it's too much for little girls, even preteens.

Sometimes I feel like my grandma saying things like, "When I was your age ..." I do think some of the adult costumes are cute, but I don't like the idea that they're marketed to little girls. When I was a kid, we had a dime store called TG&Y. It was like a Woolworths, or a Ben Franklin, or maybe even a Walgreens without a pharmacy. You could find just about anything at TG&Y. As kids, we'd go there to buy candy. Halloween was an exciting time at that store because they'd set up a huge display. At least it seemed huge to us. This was before the big box stores. I remember walking up and down all of the aisles looking at the Halloween stuff. There weren't all the decorations you find today. If someone took the time to decorate their house, they usually made their decorations by hand.

One thing I remember vividly were Halloween costumes. TG&Y had boxed Halloween costumes. Unless you trick-or-treated in the 1970s, you probably don't remember these. You had 2 choices for costumes back then. One, you could make your own or have your mom make one. Or two, you bought a boxed costume. By boxed, I mean the costumes were sold in literal boxes, like the picture above. There was a plastic mask of the character and then a vinyl-like cover-up of the character's body. The cover-up tied at the back, like a hospital gown, so you had to wear regular clothes under it. The masks were hot and the elastic bands always got stuck in your hair. But as kids, we loved these costumes. I'd search every box until I found a character I liked. However, I didn't always choose a boxed costume. A lot of times I'd settle for a black witch's hat or maybe some cat ears. It was up to me to get a black leotard and black tights for the rest of the ensemble. I remember sewing a cat's tail myself a few times.

Back in the 70s, Halloween wasn't about how great your costume was. It was just about getting as much candy as possible. We didn't have aisles and aisles of trademarked costumes to choose from, in every size imaginable. Boxed costumes came in one-size-fits-all. The sexy costumes were never seen, unless you had access to a Fredrick's of Hollywood catalog. There were no costumes that lit up, or used electronic devices to inflate them. We didn't have special Halloween stores pop up during the month of October. We waited for TG&Y to set up their huge display, which was probably an aisle or two, if that. As a kid, I always thought it was funny how Sally says, "Tricks or treats" in the cartoon, It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. Now, I'm wondering if she was onto something ...


  1. I have seen this horrible costumes. Is it too much to hope that parents will protest?

    My mom made my costumes, which has inspired me to learn to sew. Fortunately, she made my daughter's costume this year! (Tinker Bell.)

  2. Gosh - when I was a kid Mom and Dad could barely afford school clothes - we had to make our Halloween costumes. Great thing those extra sheets - I'm kinda surprised looking back though that Mom let us cut eye holes for those ghosties.

  3. Rena I loved those box costumes from the 70s! Oh I remember being a princess and thinking it was so cool.
    We usually made our own outfits. I know we kids were bums a few times yea not a PC outfit now days but it was fun to burn the cork and make a beard.
    Even with my son Tony we would improvise a few times. I had an old Oscar the Grouch tie back costume one year and we painted his hair green and he wore green sweats to a party and won first prize! All the kids loved his outfit and thought it was *cool* and he was like 7 at the time. Some of the kids had high dollar outfits and we just had a dress up outfit.
    I agree on how the kids outfits are looking way to adult. There is no reason a 7 year old needs to look like a Fredericks model. I was shockede when looking at some of the costumes the other day. The teen outfits are even worse! No way would a daughter of mine step foot out the door looking like that!

  4. I agree with you Rena. I went to Party City this morning, and couldn't believe all the "sexy" looking costumes -- witches, Superheroes, pumpkins, pirates -- you name it. It was sickening. It looks like I'll be making my own costume this year!

    Neen :)

  5. We don't celebrate Halloween here in Korea and I guess I'm happy with that. But my boys do like to get all dressed up and it doesn't have to be for Halloween!

  6. I like Halloween because of the kids. They love trick or treat time!

  7. I had totally forgotten about those boxed costumes. I don't think I ever wore one though. I remember my brother was the Fonz one year with a boxed costume. I made my own up with whatever we had around the house. The sexy costumes sicken me. For various reasons,we don't celebrate Halloween,only harvest time. The kids don't mind.


  8. It's sad how such simple things as costumes for kids have sexual overtones. And WE wonder why there's so much porn and sexual abuse....

    My mom was great about making my costumes. My favorite was when she dressed me up as Raggedy Ann, from red-yarn wig to red striped legs.

  9. Holy Boob Job, Batman! :)

    I don't care if adults wear the sexy outfits, but there needs to be more of a selection that is not tight and sexy. We dress up almost every year, I bought a nurse outfit one year, I thought looked okay from the picture. It was skintight and lowcut and I've never worn it! I'm putting together my own costume this year, mostly because we are on a budget, but it will probably turn out better anyway!
    I saw a 14 yr old neighbor girl in that Bo Peep with the thigh highs a few years ago. I was APPALLED! And of course my daughter said that she looked cute. (Nooooooooo! ) Maybe my daughter wants to be a nun this year for Halloween...

  10. I totally agree - I can't believe some of the costumes available out there! So suggestive and trampy.

    And can we talk about expensive? Ryan wants to be Batman this year so I looked at costumes at a couple of stores - both wanted over $30.00! Eek. I am sorry but the costumes are cheap (to look at) and it is only for 1 night. Vince called his mom and she is mailing up Vince's old Batman costume - from 35 years ago! lol I guess some things never change!