"Sexy" costumes inappropriate for young girls.

Position:Mental Health

Designing risque and sexualized Halloween costumes for girls has become a lucrative Mm business and parents are concerned that this trend is sending the wrong message to their children. The traditional pirate, witch, and schoolteacher costumes for girls now have a vixen undertone to them. Costumes are outfitted with miniskirts, leather high-heel boots, shirts that expose the midriff, low-cut corsets, and other overtly sexualized accessories.

"The message is loud and clear: Corporate America and popular culture continue to perpetuate limited definitions of gender, where girls are supposed to be 'sexy,' even in elementary school," declares Susan Wefald, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Ms. Foundation for Women, Washington, D.C.

The business of producing sexy costumes has increased steadily over the years and has become very popular among consumers, according to Christa Getz, the purchasing director for BuyCostumes.com. "Probably over 90 to 95% of our female costumes have a flirty edge to them," confirms Getz, adding that the costumes are so popular that the company had to break its "sexy" category into three subdivisions.

"Decades after the second wave of the women's movement, you would expect more of a gender-neutral range of costumes," asserts Adie Nelson, author of The Pink Dragon Is Female: Halloween Costumes and Gender Markers. Nelson believes this trend toward overtly sexualized costumes begins with the heroic childhood figures little girls grow up watching. She explains that these fictional characters or icons of femininity are very much...

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