The news: It's bad enough costume companies limit women's Halloween options to sexualized caricatures. But when that sexualization happens to young girls, that's crossing a line.
Over the weekend, Canadian writer Raina Delisle gained attention after penning an op-ed for the Huffington Post titled "Halloween Costumes Are Sexualizing Our Youngest Trick-Or-Treaters."
Delisle wrote about how she took her daughter to Value Village to buy a firefighter outfit for Halloween. But to her shock and disappointment, she found that while the boys' costumes looked like actual firefighter outfits, the girls' costumes were prettied-up parodies that bordered on inappropriate.
"We quickly located a firefighter costume for boys, complete with a bright red jacket, a traditional helmet and an axe. The girls' version, on the other hand, is a skin-tight, short, shiny dress that's surely flammable. It includes a fascinator (in lieu of a helmet) never before seen on a real firefighter," Delisle writes.
"Even the pumpkin costume for preschoolers is sexy: It's sleeveless and features a black bodice with an orange ribbon that laces up the front like a corset. I found the girls' firefighter and the police officer costumes the most offensive, as they hung on the rack in stark contrast to the boys' versions," she adds.
Costumes like this send the wrong message to young girls. While incidents like this might seem like minor inconveniences for Halloween shopping, they confirm a harmful stereotype: Boys can go out and do cool things, while girls are confined to looking pretty.
"What those costumes tell me is that the boys can wear the real thing. They can be a real firefighter. The girls, on the other hand can't. They can dress up pretty and pretend to be a firefighter, but they could never aspire to be the real thing," Delisle told CBC News.
At least in this case, Value Village listened to the backlash and responded. On Monday, the store announced that it would be removing the costumes that Delisle wrote about.
"We've taken the recent comments surrounding certain Halloween costumes sold in our stores very seriously, and as such, are removing this merchandise from our sales floors," Value Village wrote in a statement. "We apologize to those who were offended, and as we move forward, we will evaluate all costumes and packaging keeping this specific customer feedback in mind."
Some young girls want to fight fires and crimes just as much as boys do. And on the one day of the year when they get to dress up like their heroes, they shouldn't have to squeeze into flimsy, impractical outfits to live out their dreams.