I have daughters that are smart and fierce (like their lawyer momma!). At Halloween-time girls want to have fun and express themselves with costumes that reflect their personal energy. Most store-bought costumes for tween and teen girls exhibit T&A, rather than clever personal expression. You may have read about or maybe seen a “Sexy Cop”, or a witch dress with thigh high garters and 4” pumps. These manufactured costumes cannot help a young woman shine as an individual. And what the heck is with “sexy” R2-D2? How can that little astromech droid get ANY sexier than he already is?
Kids today are smarter than pre-fab costumes give them credit for. Part of the fun of expressing yourself is actually MAKING the costume with bits and bobs from Goodwill, Michael’s, and items around the house.
Here are a few ideas for Do It Yourself costumes for young women that will let them show off who they are, rather than be objectified in a crappy polyester frock.
- Supreme Court Justice The US has three women sitting on the Supreme Court. Justices Ginsburg, Kagan and Sotomayor have broken ground and glass ceilings for girls everywhere. What more empowering role is there than as one of the most wise and powerful women on earth? This costume is simple. A black graduation gown from Goodwill, a lacey collar or scarf, and maybe a gavel for a prop. Tight bun and dour expression are optional.
- Punk Rocker Halloween costumes are about personal expression, and so is the Punk scene. Black leather, torn shirts, run tights, safety pins, pops of color, black nail polish, loud hair, a dash of 80s makeup, you know the drill. A short skirt and pare shoulders can work here as part of the authentic costume, not a tacky come-hither feature. The kids can have fun with this one, breaking all the dress code rules at school.
- Doctor The Sexy Nurse is soooo 1959. Our kids do not need to indulge the fantasies of middle aged men. A doctor costume is an assertive look that puts her
at the top of the medical food chain. Lab coats and scrubs are plentiful at thrift shops, and props like a stethoscope or surgical mask enhance. This can be taken to the macabre with splashes of fake blood. And when some old timer asks “Oh, are you a cute little nurse?”, it is totally OK for your daughter to reply “No, I’m a surgeon. Are you a nurse?”
- Zombie Hunter There will be zombies stumbling the streets Halloween night, and who better to protect the little ghosts, pirates, ninjas and princesses than an official zombie hunter? This costume can be a mash up of hunting gear, post-apocalyptic accessories, and comically dangerous looking weapon props. Giant cartoony Nerf guns, crossbows, and axes are perfect. Your daughter has big brains that the zombies want to eat, and she can protect herself.
- Viking Warrior Archaeologists recently discovered that as many as half of the Norse warrior remains they had been studying were of female Vikings. Viking women were partners in defense and conquest. This costume has lots of room to play with props and accouterments. Chain mail, helmets, shields, battle ax, swords, braided hair, war paint, rugged boots. But keep in mind that Viking women only wear bikini armor in stories written by horny men.
There are plenty of pop culture role models girls may want to be, and that you can find costumes for: Katniss, Wonder Woman, Princess Leia, Hermione, Cleopatra. But part of the fun is creating a new character and costume from scratch.
A costume is a reflection of her imagination and aspirations. If she wants to be an homage to an old-timey stewardess in a short skirt, that is OK; but let’s not put her in a miniskirt and call it “Sexy Airline Pilot”.
At the end of the day, any costume that your daughter creates and is comfortable wearing is a good one for her. Don’t let a shabby store costume dampen her self esteem. Let her self esteem blossom through creative expression in a costume she creates.
Jaye Ryan is a criminal defense attorney based in Martinez serving clients from around Contra Costa County. She specializes in serious crimes and the cross examination of forensic evidence. Her office is downtown, steps from the Contra Costa Jail.