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Skimpy Skirts or Modest Fairies?

Whew! Another Halloween's come and gone. And the girls' costume wars can begin anew next year.

After reading Brigid Schulte's story on preteens trading fairy wands for fishnets, I wondered: Who's going to win the costume battles this year, the girls or the parents? In my neck of the woods, either the story was overblown or the parents clearly had their say. Let's start with the elementary school parade. Of more than 600 students at the elementary school there was one see-through fairy skirt, one midriff, one fishnet stocking and fewer than 10 short skirts. And nearly all the girls with skirts wore tights. At trick-or-treating time, there were even fewer short skirts.

That's a far cry from the racy costumes found on store shelves. Even more interesting were the mix of store-bought versus homemade outfits. If I'd had my way, the boys would always have homemade costumes. But my kindergartner seems to think that a costume isn't a costume unless it comes from a store or catalogue. Maybe this year's school parade will alter his view. My favorites: A tree and a doctor impressively marching through the parade on stilts. Kindergartner's favorite: A banana.

What did you see at the school parades and trick-or-treating last night? Were the girls racy or toned down and cute? What were some of your favorite costumes?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  November 1, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Relationships
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First of all public school, nixed Halloween celebrations. You couldn't tell at all it was Halloween. The preschool went to the pumpkin patch and absolutely no mention of Halloween during the trip. One kid did wear his Spiderman costume but he seemed to be the only child at the pumpkin patch in costume. We only got 25 trick or treaters. What is up with that? Where are all the kids. I did not see a single racey costume. All the 2 nd grade and under kids came in store bought, catalogue purchased character costumes. Some of the older kid came in traditional scary costumes and a few upper elementary middle schoolers came in regular street clothes. Overall I think Halloween is lame now. I think I am going to search out some sort of community party next year. My kid seemed to enjoy trick or treating for the hour. Plus earlier that day, she went to a day care party. I saw all ballerinas, princesses, several Doras and Minnie Mouse. Oh there are no boys anymore in her day care class.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 1, 2007 7:22 AM | Report abuse

My kids are learning about Halloween from me, not advertisers. We know that the true fun in Halloween isn't buying some premade costume that everyone else will have. It's putting together your own costume, using old clothes,stuff you find around the house...using your imagination. One year, I was a rubick's cube and I had a friend go out as a bag of jellybeans ( wearing a large transparent garbage bag filled with smaller multi-colored balloons.

We went trick or treating at the mall yesterday. My daughter was a fairy princess, wearing a dress I wore 30 years ago in a wedding. My mother had sewn stars onto it for my Halloween costume when I was a kid. No one else had her exact costume, which was original, and lovely. While trick or treating we saw about 50 store bought cinderellas, 100 store bought snow whites, and another 100 or so store bought Belles. Don't get me started about how many sightings of Spiderman we noticed. Originality? Zero.

Parents must learn that Halloween is about spending time with your kid and not just on the day. Time planning their costume, talking about what they'll do on the day. Reading to your kids, so they will know characters from books instead of the latest movie being hawked out by McDonald's Happy Meals. I suspect many parents think they are doing a good enough job just buying some random costume from Target and taking off two hours early from work to walk the kids around a couple of blocks for treats. The true spirit of Halloween is getting away from us, and I think THAT'S really scary.

Posted by: Kris | November 1, 2007 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Actually it was the racey moms that freaked me out. At one house, a mom in her forties answered the door all tricked out in her "sexy pirate" costume with her "girls" on display for my ten year old son. WHAAAT? (Kind of hard to tell your daughter that an outfit is inappropriate when someone else's MOM is wearing it . . )

And what's with all the moms with tattoos anyway? when exactly did that happen?

Posted by: justlurking | November 1, 2007 8:25 AM | Report abuse

I saw a LOT of skanky little girls tricked up as mini-hookers (no offense to hookers).

No-brainer who lost the battle - was there even a battle?

What are parents thinking these days? Are they too lazy to parent?

Posted by: odelle | November 1, 2007 8:35 AM | Report abuse

We had ONE trcik-or-treater. We had more trick-or-treaters than that back during the sniper thing. Since last Halloween, we have moved from Lorton to a more rural area up past Baltimore, but there are still kids around. They were running all over the street behind us, as we could hear them for hours. I guess out street was too dark (older homes, big trees, fewer streetlights, no sidewalks). It was really sad because I love to see all the kids in there costumes. Oh well, I will know for next year.

Posted by: RT | November 1, 2007 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and the one we saw was in a store bough pirate costume. But he was only 4.

Posted by: RT | November 1, 2007 8:39 AM | Report abuse

My 11 year old sister and her best friend started brainstorming costume ideas in August...and eventually settled on going as a pair of dice, wearing big boxes that they painted themselves. Their other friend who trick-or-treated with them went as Mia Hamm. Nothing trashy there...but they're all in sixth grade at a public elementary school. It wouldn't surprise me if the "tone" of Halloween costuming changes for them next year, when they're all in middle school and are around older kids more.

Posted by: Arlington23YO | November 1, 2007 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Trick-or-Treating on our street was the best. We rarely get kids that don't live on it and there are currenty 38 7th grade and younger on it. The older kids walked the younger ones up and down while all the parents handed out candy and chatted at the end of the driveways. Then the pre-schoolers went to bed and a couple of moms took the older elementary kids out on a few more streets. I saw a good mix of store bought and homemade costumes and only one that I thought was a bit inappropriate. We had a blast! The best part is our local school is collecting candy to send to the soldiers over seas, so we have already unloaded a ton. My 4th grader took almost all of hers because the class who donates the most pounds of candy gets an extra gym class next week. Isn't that a great idea?

Posted by: Momof5 | November 1, 2007 8:52 AM | Report abuse

My boys were Batman & Robin. My daughter was Cinderella. No, they weren't original and yes they were store bought. But my kids had fun trick or treating, loved painting pumpkins and putting out decorations. I didn't see any shocking costumes on the kids who were wearing them but there were alot who didn't wear them and more who didn't say thank you.

Posted by: Mom to 3 | November 1, 2007 8:59 AM | Report abuse

My kids' public school did not nix halloween - the annual parade and class parties went on as usual. and trick or treating was fun as well - we were out 'till the bitter end. houses were all decked out, there was even a haunted house. no inappropriate costumes that I noticed. a good mix of store bought/home made costumes.

Could it have just been a bunch of hype? Or maybe it just got too cold!

Posted by: prarie dog | November 1, 2007 9:11 AM | Report abuse

"Parents must learn that Halloween is about spending time with your kid and not just on the day. "

Never, not even when I was growing up, was Halloween about parents spending quality time with there kids. It's about kids running around with other kids having fun.

Sure, they can help set up decorations, bounce costume ideas off each other, but at the end of the day, the parent is just the person holding the flashlight.

"Reading to your kids, so they will know characters from books instead of the latest movie being hawked out by McDonald's Happy Meals. "

Are you seriously implying that parents who buy costumes don't read to their kids?

Posted by: it's just a day | November 1, 2007 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Uh, come off sounding like a patronizing jerk. And this is over Halloween for crying out loud; I imagine you're a real peach about truly important things. For the sake of your children and neighbors, lighten up! A little humility is at least as important as making your kid's Halloween costume.

Posted by: Maryland | November 1, 2007 9:37 AM | Report abuse

I didn't see any kids in skanky costumes. Actually, I don't think I've ever seen any girls (under the age of 15 or 16- which is quite different from 10 or 11) in skanky costumes. Who are the parents who are buying this stuff?

Posted by: reston, va | November 1, 2007 9:39 AM | Report abuse

it's just a day: I agree with just a day. My mother is an artist. So we had the most amazing costumes in the neighborhood. But she will event tell you that Halloween costume making is almost 99% parents. Yeah the kid may tell you I want to be a fairy, spiderman, or whoever. They may give you some ideas like I want a wand or really cool shoes. But the vast majority of the work is done by the parents. It was never done by the kids. First of all, kids under 5 are not too good at making anything on their own. Even when they do art projects, it is generally adult led unless it looks like -hmm, uniques pieces of art that only a parent or grand parent can appreciate. Also my mother will tell you that you better like costume making because 99% of kids could care less. She spent hours working on elaborate costumes and kids, in general, are perfectly happy with a $30 store bought costume. Not be rude, but what is original about being a princess in an old dress? I saw at least two girls wearing old dresses that I assumed were fairy princess. And you said yourself that the your mom sewed the stars on. Not the kid. I say Halloween is about kids having fun. If the fun comes from a store or the attic it is probably irrelevant. And your thing about book reading just sounds like your own justifications. Of course people who buy store bought costumes read to their kids.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 1, 2007 9:40 AM | Report abuse

whoa, kris, undies a little too tight this morning? so what if your child is wearing the same costume as 99 other kids. does your child like the costume? my son plays pokemon like the other children in the neighbor. he lives, eats, breathes, and talks pokemon like a number of other of his school friends. i'm not going to make him be something else just for the sake of being "original".

Posted by: quark | November 1, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

The way I see it is that as long as the outfit is legal, it's not too skimpy. Come Oct 31, things get a little chilly at night and skimpy isn't comfortable.

For me, it was one of the best Halloweens yet. Being that DST was pushed back into November, there was an extra hour of daylight so all the little ones could get out before complete darkness. Remember, safety is our #1 concern, but I noticed that pizza is becoming a popular choice for families on Haloween night, so we had a lot of pizza delivery cars attempting to race through the neighborhood. But not so fast, at 5:45 our neighborhood filled up with hundreds of people of all ages, the adults wandering down the middle of the street slowing down the pizza guy, and kids kicking leaves through the yards as they ran from house to house. I took my 5 year old Batman around several blocks then handed out handfulls of candy. Met a lot of neighbors, my beer guzzing friends dropped by my house for a few cold ones before going down the street for a couple shots of whiskey at another friends. College students dressed up and spent time just hanging out on the street corners to monitor the action and keep things safe.

A long winded way of saying it was a great time had by all who participated.

Posted by: DandyLion | November 1, 2007 10:14 AM | Report abuse

To the person who commented something like "most of the kids live around here.." for trick-or-treating:

Every kid has a right to a peaceful street
By Connie Schultz

Every Halloween, it happened.

And every Halloween, a few neighbors complained.

For more than a decade, my daughter and I lived on the edge of an affluent suburb that was mere blocks from one of the poorest sections of Cleveland. We rented a three-story duplex near one of the busiest corners of town, and most Halloweens a few cars slowly pulled up to the curb and turned on their blinkers so that five, six, sometimes more children could tumble out of each of them and march down our street.

These children were almost always African-American, and it was clear from the condition of their cars and the barely-there costumes that they were from somewhere else. They usually carried pillowcases or large shopping bags, and sometimes their parents held out a bag, too, when we answered the door.

Because we lived near this intersection, I always bought extra bags of candy. For several Halloweens, I was out with my own daughter trick-or-treating. I was a single parent at the time, and so there was no one else to answer our door. It didn't seem right, though, for our home to be lights-out empty while my kid gathered the bounty from knocking on other people's doors. Driven by guilt as much as generosity, I would leave a basket of candy on the lighted porch steps with a note: "Please take only one."

Some neighbors suggested I was pathetically naive, but the basket was stolen only once in the six years we did this.

That did not dissuade the critics.

"It only encourages them to come here," one neighbor said.

When I asked who "them" might be, she frowned.

"I resent having to give candy to kids who don't even live here," she said.

Her solution was to ask every child if he or she lived in the neighborhood before she would drop a single piece of candy in the bag. And if they were willing to admit they didn't?

"I tell them to go trick-or-treating in their own neighborhood," she said. "It's not up to me to save the world."

I'm hard-pressed to see how Bazooka bubble gum or mini-Musketeers bars contribute to world peace, but the willingness to give without condition might stoke the hope of a child who deserves to feel worthy of a simple kindness. As efforts go, it's a small one to drop a single goody in every open bag.

But those who, like that woman, ration their benevolence by a geography that children can't control might want to consider why they're coming to their neighborhoods.

It's probably fear, not greed, that motivates their parents' drive across town.

The Associated Press reported earlier this week that a new poll shows fewer low-income parents and minorities will allow their children to go trick-or-treating this year.

The reason is as simple as it is horrifying: They fear for their children's safety. We're not talking about hyped-up tales of razor-bladed apples or poisoned candy. What scares them to death is the random violence that's killing children in blighted urban neighborhoods, often only blocks away from some of the nicest streets in America.

As usual, confidence soars with income. Of the 1,013 adults interviewed by phone, 93 percent of those earning $50,000 or more said their communities are safe for trick-or-treating. Only 76 percent of those making less than $25,000 felt that way about their own communities.

Here's another take on the findings from the poll by AP and Ipsos, a research company: While 73 percent of whites will let their children go trick-or-treating this week, only 56 percent of minorities said they'd do the same with their kids. Some lessons in life, the kind that teach you who matters and who doesn't, sure start early. For some children, anyway.

This Halloween, if we're home, our doorbell might ring. And ring and ring. Every child on the other side of our door will already know where he or she lives. They don't need the reminder.

The trick is how we'll treat them, and whether they'll feel welcome in our neighborhood, where we're lucky to live every day of the year.

Posted by: Rebecca | November 1, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

The story that Rebecca refers to is a column from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Here's the full link:

Posted by: Stacey Garfinkle | November 1, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse


What is your point?

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 1, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

No sleezy dresses for my daughters and thus there will be no contraceptives when they are in middle, high school or even college, hopefully!!

Posted by: xx | November 1, 2007 11:14 AM | Report abuse

I posted the story because someone made the comment about how most kids who come trick-or-treating are from their own street (implying it was a good thing).

Yes, on the one hand, I understand that is a good thing, giving a sense of community.

On the other, I just wanted to show another side to the story by posting that column. So what if the kids come from another area? Kids are kids. They need good experiences and good adults in their lives, whether they live in "our community" or not.

Posted by: Rebecca | November 1, 2007 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Just lurking
And what's with all the moms with tattoos anyway? when exactly did that happen?

Why does it matter if Moms have tattoos? Judgmental much?

Halloween is about kids going out and having fun, being anything they want for just one night and getting as much candy as they can carry. It doesn't matter if they are original, it matters that they are who they want to be and have a fun safe time. I took my daughter out as Alice and her friend as an evil fairy with our tinkerbell dog. They had a blast. I will be sad when she no longer wants to have a parent there as it is fun to walk around and see the kids and watch all the excitement as they get the candy and see their friends.

There were some kids in the neighborhood that didn't live there. Who cares. I would rather have them in our neighborhood all safe than have to hear about something bad happening on the news later.

Posted by: California Mom | November 1, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

XX Sleazy dresses and contraceptives are two completely different subjects. Yu must be one of those parents who think that if they don't talk to their kid about everything then they won't do it. I went to school with a girl like that and she was the only one that got pregnant. I would rather inform my daughter and give her options then shut the door and put her future at risk because of my worries.

Posted by: California Mom | November 1, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

We had maybe 30 kids, and I saw nothing tawdry. Of course, it was quite chilly here in Michigan and most of the kids had warm clothing both under and over their costumes.

My favorite was a young group of 3 (siblings?), not because of their costumes but because of their charm and bright attitudes. A young boy of about 8 said "nice place you got here!" The slightly older girl noticed and wanted to talk about some art work I had hanging on the entryway wall, and the 3rd younger boy said "thank you for the eye" (I was giving out gummy body parts).

Posted by: CJB | November 1, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

I used to think that store-bought costumes were a cop-out, too. DH and I have made some amazing costumes over the years (he made the constructed ones, like the lighthouse; I did the sewn ones like the Christmas tree with ornaments and lights). But the DDs are both now teens, and I'm really over it. Making the moose costume for the 13-year-old this year will be the last hurrah, I think. And the poster who said that it was mostly the parents doing the work was correct on that score too. My kids said they wanted to help, but usually what they wanted was too complex or they were too absorbed in some other activity to really participate. I don't need affirmation of my creativity from strangers anymore.

Posted by: LML | November 1, 2007 12:10 PM | Report abuse

We had a great time last night -- about 40 trick or treaters, nothing sleazy. We live in an urban area so I only knew a few of the kids. And EVERY SINGLE group said thank you. The parents and school are doing a great job with the kids. My favorite was a little guy (3-4 yo) dressed as spiderman who, without prompting, waved and said "Thank you Bee!" to my roommate dressed as a bee.

Posted by: MaryL | November 1, 2007 12:55 PM | Report abuse

The school I teach in no longer has the whole Halloween thing, but, instead does a book parade. Each grade has an international focus, so, each grade reads a book (or selection of books) and creates a portable display, using materials provided by the school at school, and then walks around the hallways while each grade cheers.

It is nice because my pre-K's get to see parts of the school that they don't usually get to see and their older siblings are there to cheer them on.

As for last night, I got about 15 kids, in about 3-4 groups. The most memorable was a bunch of middle schoolers (Thing 1 and Thing 2 and the Cat in the Hat were my favorites) and one of them cracked me up by asking me how my day had been.

Posted by: Susan | November 1, 2007 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I don't know about the out-of-neighborhood kids. We get loads of "outside" kids in our neighborhood for Halloween every year (some brought by buses for "Safe Halloween Night"). Of course, I don't mind the general idea.

What I do mind is the lack of manners. "They" always come quite late (9 10 pm), knocking on my door time and again even when we don't answer (bringing our kids to bed, being out of candy, etc.), litter front yards. Last night, I had two chase away a group of "outside" kids trying to steal our proudly carved pumpkin.

If you bring your kids to my neighborhood because yours sucks, teach them manners first - or come with them!

Posted by: NoNameForThis | November 1, 2007 4:03 PM | Report abuse

In DD's kindergarten class 6 of the 9 girls were princesses. All with long dresses mostly pink and most of the girls had long dark hair.

I saw the older girls and most were more creative but none were too short. The school celebrates Halloween but is strict about a dress code. DD is treat or treating today at nursing home (no school today) and then going rollar skating.

I definitely want to be a kid again.

Posted by: shdd | November 1, 2007 4:17 PM | Report abuse

XX: nice delusion you have there, you think well dressed teens don't have sex?

But seriously, it's HALLOWEEN, the night for COSTUMES. I think it helps promote the idea even more that these sorts of outfits are for play and NOT for everyday wear.

Halloween wearing costumes is about being given an excuse to be/act like you kinda always want to act all year. In a world that claims to celebrate diversity but shuts it down every time there's actualy glimpses of it, give a fun stolen religious holiday a break.

Which is why I didn't really do anything- I already do what I want.

Posted by: Liz D | November 1, 2007 4:25 PM | Report abuse

I didn't see anyone in sleazy outfits. I did see several middle school age students that didn't bother to put on a costume. I personally don't think they should trick or treat if they can't at least put a little effort into putting on a costume. Just my opinion though.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 5, 2008 10:26 PM | Report abuse

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