Remember when Halloween costumes were as simple as a cowboy hat and boots, or a sheet with holes poked in it? Today it’s not that simple. And if you’re a female the pressure is on… the burden to be sexy.
Mean Girls said it years ago, and today’s teens know it to be true. Halloween is the one time a year where girls have an excuse to dress like sluts.
Last night NBC’s brand new show Marry Me jested about this reality when Dennah and Annie discussed what costumes they’d wear this year:
Dennah: I’d love some feedback on my costume. Two years ago I went as a slutty nurse and then last year I was a slutty judge. But this year I’m just going to cut out the middleman and go as a slut.
Annie: We got it. You hate your parents.
Dennah: (she sulks) They’re not great.
The messages are all around us. Try shopping for Halloween costumes with your daughter… “slutty” is in. (I posted a pic on Instagram while shopping with my daughter a couple weeks ago).
Some people are taking notice. For example, Subway took some heat for their “Sexy Halloween Costume” commercial that encouraged girls, and I quote, “bikini season may be over, but there’s more reasons right around the corner to stay fit.”
The reasons? Sexy Halloween costumes. (You can read Time Magazine’s rant about that here.)
What if companies swing to the other extreme and encourage the full figured look? Wal Mart might have taken that a bit too far when they labeled a category, “Fat Girl Costumes.” (whoops)
Funny, some of the girls modeling those costumes were anything but full figured.
Today’s young girls must be confused. It’s okay to be sexy, but don’t worry about weight… right? That’s exactly the message they are hearing every day. And if you don’t believe me, take a peek at the music charts, and you won’t have to look any further than the No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart right now, Meghan Trainor’s song All About That Bass (which is one of the many big booty songs on the charts- we wrote about this in detail a few weeks ago on our Youth Culture Window page). Here’s a glimpse at the lyrics:
Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two
But I can shake it, shake it
Like I’m supposed to do
‘Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
And all the right junk in all the right places…
What are young girls hearing from this song?
On one hand, they’ll hear the positive message of not obsessing about their weight. But on the other hand, they’re encouraged to shake it like “I’m supposed to do” hoping to have “junk in all the right places” so that the boys will chase? (if you think that message is misleading, look up the No. 3 song on the charts, Bang Bang.)
So how should parents respond?
I guess I’d give the same advice that I gave a mom after one of my parent workshops this year when she confessed, “My 17-year-old daughter won’t even talk with me.”
I asked her, “Have you spent any time with her just listening to her and talking about what she wants to talk about?” Or are all your conversations, “Did you finish your homework… clean your room… do your chores?”
How much time are you devoting to just getting to know your kid?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not encouraging you to forfeit your calling as a parent and just become that fun friend parent who never teaches and never corrects. What I’m encouraging parents to do is not ONLY teach and correct.
When we spend time with our kids and build relationships with them, conversations eventually happen. Our daughters will see an ad like the controversial ones above and they’ll have an opinion. (Teenagers are overflowing with opinions!)
Do you know their opinion is?
Mention the APA’s report on the “Sexualization” of today’s girls, highlighting a sentence or two. Ask them:
- Are these doctors right?
- Where do you see examples of “sexualization”?
- How do you think girls should respond?
- How can you respond?
IF YOU ENJOY THESE KINDS OF DISCUSSION SPRINGBOARDS, YOU’LL LOVE JONATHAN’S NEW BOOK, GET YOUR TEENAGER TALKING