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Steps for Choosing a Gender Appropriate Costume

The leaves are changing color, football is on TV, and pumpkin spice is everywhere. That can only mean one thing, fall is here, and with it comes Halloween costumes. I wanted to share steps you can take to make sure it’s gender appropriate.

Step one: Have a child.
Step two: Realize there is no such thing as a gender appropriate costume.
Step three: Let your kid be what they want.

And, you’re done. That’s it. Those are the only steps. Seriously, I can’t believe we are still having conversations like this in 2017. I consider myself conservative in most aspects of life, but I just shake my head at the fact that kids can’t wear what they like in general, especially when it comes time to dress up for Halloween.

As a mom of two girls, I understand that I have it a bit easier if my daughters decide to step outside of gender stereotypical costumes, which hasn’t happened yet. Last year my oldest decided she wanted to be Cinderella, and I was happy to make her a costume.

As Halloween approached my daughter got more and more excited about being Cinderella. I also began seeing articles/blog posts where people talked about not wanting their daughter to be a princess. Trying to convince their daughter to be something “stronger.” As if liking princesses was wrong. Girls who chose to be something else were praised and celebrated. The posts discussed how princesses are dumb, and not real life. Last time I checked, movies with talking animals are fantasy (but then again, so are movies about superheroes that can fly). Just like we shouldn’t be telling a boy he can’t be a princess, why tell a girl she needs to choose something different?

Then there’s the other side of the story. The kids who do step outside gender stereotypes. So your daughter wants to be Spiderman? That’s great! Maybe she loves how he shoots spider webs from his wrists and helps get the bad people. Don’t try to convince them to be the sparkly pink Spidergirl or some other “girl” costume. Share in her excitement and embrace the fun she is having using her imagination.

And then the situation people seem to lose their minds most over. Boys as princesses. Girls are praised for dressing outside of gender norms, but when a boy does it, people get mad. I honestly don’t understand why it’s an issue. What’s so scary about the idea of a boy pretending to be a princess? So your boy wants to be Elsa or Belle? That’s awesome! Perhaps they think Elsa’s ice powers are pretty awesome. Or maybe they love that Belle loves to read. They might love the sparkly the dress and want a chance to wear it and spin in it. It really doesn’t matter the reason. What should matter is that it is the costume that your son choose. Rather than make him feel bad about his choice by convincing him to be something else, buy the princess dress. See the joy he gets wearing it.

Last I checked Halloween was all about fun, pretending and letting children express themselves. If you want to talk about how gender roles are changing, those conversations should be happening all the time throughout the year, and not be confined to Halloween. Let’s stop praising or discouraging our children’s costume choice and just support them.

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