A version of this post originally ran on Parent Toolkit. Generally speaking, real life uniformed female police officers do not wear short skirts and low cut shirts, but instead wear exactly the same slacks and shirts as their male counterparts. Gender stereotypes are perpetuated early and often, even in seemingly innocent Halloween costume aisles. Parent Toolkit expert and psychologist Dr. Michele Borba said that by dictating what children should be, we may be stifling what they could be. Check the bias.
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Big brands and retailers have been recently pushing to be more gender inclusive when marketing their products to kids and their parents. Apparently, Party City is not one of those brands. One woman decided to call out Party City's categorization of girls' Halloween costumes on its website in an open letter. Many people use social media to voice their opinions or air their grievances against companies, but she says her particular complaint ended up getting her banned from the company's page altogether. See also: Target rejects gender labels for toy sections after consumer outcry. While shopping online for a Halloween costume for her 3-year-old daughter, Lin Kramer noticed that the retailer not only had a relatively sparse offering of "Career Costumes" for young girls compared to young boys, but also the costumes seemed like unnecessarily feminized versions of their male counterparts.
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Lin Kramer, a Savannah attorney on the hunt for a costume for her daughter, thinks the answer is absolutely not. To her, it is inappropriate bordering on obscene. She has been, however, overwhelmed by the national conversation her post has generated regarding gender stereotypes and the sexualization of girls. To make her point, Kramer compared the police officer costumes for boys and girls. Kramer said she was simply trying to get a large retailer to consider the subtle and not-so-subtle messages its merchandise can send.
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Across the fluorescently-lit wall were evenly-spaced, rectangular images of each costume, organized by code number. As I searched for the Toddler Girls section, my own toddler raced to the wall, sandwiching palm to plastic-lined ad. It was one of those rare, literal double-takes: I looked left, right, and back again at what was in front of my face. From a distance, the GIRLS looked mislabeled, but up close it became clear these were, in fact, children, and not teens or adults.