This year for Halloween, I’m dressing my daughter as a boy.
Or not a boy, exactly, but in a costume meant for a boy, complete with bulging biceps and puffed up superhero chest. Other options included the standards: sexy bumble bee, unzipped nurse (did real nurse scrubs ever even come with a zipper neckline?), miniskirt Minnie Mouse, or a bunch of princess characters that are the number one reason my daughter isn’t allowed watch anything ever (aside from Giants baseball, women’s soccer, and on the very rare, very sick sickday, one or two old episodes of Sesame Street).
In short, there were no female astronaut outfits to be found. No female astronauts. No female superheroes (not even Wonder Woman!). No female pirates (unless we count the grown up, sexed up pirate wench). No cowgirls. Nothing that could be worn without makeup or hairspray, unless I wanted her head to toe dressed up as an animal, but even the animal outfits are already taking on a decidedly gendered tone.
Have I mentioned that my daughter is two?
Granted, she’s big for her age, so technically we were looking at costumes meant for four-year-olds, but I had no idea that four-year-old girls could be so comfortable trick-or-treating in such very high heels. And are the brightly colored lips and flashy nails intended to substitute for reflective gear to keep them safe in the neighbors front path?
I know, these are not new complaints, so if you’ve gotten this far and are still reading, thanks for sticking with me. What’s new to me about Halloween this year is the fact that, even all these years into the conversation, we are still having the same conversation: Girls are growing up too fast, they are being placed under sexual scrutiny from too young an age. Boys are made macho before their time. The sexes are separate from birth forward, one blue and the other pink, rather than being given the opportunity to decide for themselves where they fall on the gender scale.
My daughter likes girly things – sometimes – and that’s okay. It’s also okay that she likes to dress her male-identified dolls in these girly things that she loves so much while refusing to brush her hair and resisting dresses that feed into the girly stereotype. She likes sequins on her pink shirt, which she loves to wear with black and orange soccer shorts, her (MALE) cousin’s Crocs, and her pink and purple flower hat. She is too young to know better.
Or she was too young to know better, until I took her to the costume store.
Why did I think that by the time my daughter reached the age of influence I wouldn’t have to worry about blocking her eyes from so many photos of sexpot children and photoshopped little girls? Why did I think that just because everyone around me seems to have progressed beyond this idea of boys will be boys and girls should be girls it meant that everything around me would have progressed as well?
This year for Halloween, I’m dressing my daughter as a boy. Next year, maybe she will realize I’m dressing her as a boy, and she will push back. Maybe by then she will ask to be dressed as a princess with pink lips, or a mermaid with mahogany braids, or a ballerina barbie in tights walking around on her tip tip tippy toes.
Or maybe not. And maybe by the time she’s dressing her own children up for Halloween as big female firefighters and little male nurses, she herself can dress as the kind of square thinking adult that by that time will nothing but a relic of her youth.