Last night, like almost every Thursday night due to my tabloid addiction, I crawled in bed to relax with my new issue of Us Weekly. In a photo spread titled “Klum’s Favorite Halloween Costumes,” featuring pics from Heidi Klum’s annual party, I saw this picture of Fergie’s Halloween costume. I, literally, felt nauseated.
If you care at all about the sexualization of little girls, why would a grown woman dress up as a little girl dressed up as a woman (assuming little girls with their make-up and curled hair aspire to imitate older beauty queens and not Martians.) Talk about blurring boundaries between sexualizing little girls and adults. I just blogged about the conundrum of Batgirl, and I can barley get my mind around this costume. The bobby socks and the teddy bear? Ugh.
But here’s what Heidi Klum has to say about it: “Accessories can put a costume over the top! Fergie couldn’t have looked any better as a pageant girl.”
Right now, all I can say is GROSS. Bad move, Fergie, Heidi Klum, and Us Weekly.
My three year old dressed up as Batgirl for Halloween last night. She loves Batgirl. Everytime she puts on the costume, which is often, she acts out complicated stories, usually involving several stuffed animals, about how she is saving the world. Before last night, my daughter had no idea that Batgirl is far less famous or celebrated than Batman.
Here is what happened on Halloween:
Adult after adult, kind adults who wanted to be nice, who gave my daughter candy, called her Batman. At first, my daughter said nothing back to them but asked me: “Why do people keep calling me Batman?” I told her: “That is so silly. What are they thinking? You’re not Batman, you’re Batgirl.” As the man-moniker continued, my daughter quietly corrected them: “I’m Batgirl.” By the end of the night, she was shouting; “I’M BATGIRL!”
Sometimes, we’d run into a Batman, at one point an adult distributing candy. After his wife or girlfriend saw my daughter, called her Batman, and was corrected, she said to her partner: “Look! It’s your sidekick!” My daughter turned to me, confused. “Tell him he’s your sidekick,” I said.
The people who called my daughter Batman were men and women, adults and children, parents and teenagers. She was wearing a dress, by the way.
I know Batgirl doesn’t have five major motion pictures about her, all featuring famous movie stars. There aren’t Batgirl toys or Batgirl clothing or Batgirl comic books everywhere you look. (Today, I will do a Google search and try to find some). One person did say to my daughter: “Are you…Batwoman?” Then she laughed. I wondered why that term sounded so strange. Is there a Batwoman? Is “Batwoman” sexualized somehow? Or would “woman” imply too powerful a superhero, is that why we use “girl?” Or is it the opposite: “girl” and “man” are cool, but “woman” represents a loss of power that even little kids pick up on? Would you ever refer to a kid in the comparable costume as “Batboy?” That sounds diminutive to me. And what does that say about the sexism of our cultural mythology, that “Batgirl” is empowering but “Batboy” is insulting?
It all kind of makes me understand the monotony of Halloween: If you’re a girl and dress as princess, everything is simple and everyone knows just what to say: “I love the dress. You’re so beautiful!”
(My oldest daughter wanted to dress as a Native American because she’s doing a school paper on the Miwok tribe. Instead of being a “Dream Catcher Cutie” as the package advertised, she asked if I would buy a bow to go with her costume; my middle daughter is a fairy.)
And you know what is so amazingly fucked up about this? All of the “Sesame Street” sexy costumes for women ((Bert, Ernie, Big Bird, Elmo, Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch) are male characters, because all of the best known characters on Sesame Street — a PBS show created to educate children– are male. I guess I should be grateful no one’s heard of Abby Cadabby. Or Elmo’s fish, Dorothy.
Because some people believe every costume should be available in a sexy version, Yandy is selling these sexy Sesame Street costumes for ladies. They come in Bert, Ernie, Big Bird, Elmo, Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch versions, and all are pretty sad looking. Regardless of how you feel about them, if you’re at a Halloween bar party and a girl shows up wearing one because it’s her favorite character you need to tell a bouncer because there is NO WAY she’s legal.
Tired of sexed-up, “cute,” and endless princesses and rainbow fairies marketed to your daughters on Halloween?
A Mighty Girl has put together a great collection of awesome costumes.
My three year old is super- psyched to be Batgirl. We actually own this, but I bought a new one because ours is worn, ripped, and missing parts.
(Of course, potential Batgirl enthusiasts would be helped along if there were multiple Batgirl movies and derivative toys, games, and clothing. As is stands now, most kids haven’t heard of her, though her existence makes perfect sense to a three year old. Sadly, an eight year old, not so much.)