A man looks at the window of a novelty shop displaying joke masks and wigs ahead of the Halloween season in central Dublin
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Do you remember that scene in the movie Mean Girls? Gender study experts are partly blaming it for the change in the way young girls dress for Halloween from scary to sexy.
While Annalisa Castaldo of Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania, told USA Today that sexy Oct 31 adult costumes have been around for years, the ones designed for female teens and tweens recently started to show a sexualised edge because of the line in the movie that has became the mantra of young women now during Halloween.
That is "Halloween is the one night a year you can be a slut and get away with it."
Sharon Lamb, a counseling and school psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, explained the dressing sexily during Halloween is their proof to the world that they are no longer under parental control.
"They understand from an early age that acting sexy and looking sexy gets you attention and at the same time they understand that looking sexy doesn't necessarily mean you want to have sex. It just means that you want to look mature and that means looking sexy, like the Victoria's Secret models and the (women) on prime time TV who parade around in their underwear," Ms Lamb explained.
Ms Castaldo added that girls have lesser choices in dressing up for Halloween compared to boys. She cited that young men dressed up as a pirate are offered baggy pants, an eye patch, a sword and a parrot on the shoulder as his ensemble, while the girl pirate is sold a short skirt. If she prefers to be a super hero, again, the standard outfit is a mini skirt.
In September, U.S. Walmart stores were heavily criticised by parenting bloggers and columnist for selling a $20-Halloween costume called the Naughty Leopard for toddlers. They hit the retailer for trying to sexualise two-year-old girls with the costume that nowhere looked like a leopard.
Scott Colby, a columnist of The Star, described the attire as "a confused black dress that is part frilly ballet tutu and part cabaret corset with a crew neck and short mesh sleeves. Toss in a kitty-ear hairband, call it 'naughty,' and you've got yourself a controversy."
Initially, Walmart apologised for the gaffe and changed the costume's name to a safer Leopard Child Halloween Costume. Eventually, the item could no longer be seen on the store shelves and was even erased from its Web site.
Ms Lamb pointed out that while it is natural for young people to want to look sexy, the stereotype being presented, including by Halloween costume makers, is sexy pornographic.
While for some families, parents ordering the kids to change their too-sexy Halloween costumes would work, Ms Castaldo recommends that picking an Oct 31 costume be a joint decision of parents and children.
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