I have fond memories of Halloween as a kid, and my favorite part was definitely the costumes. We were poor, so my mom sewed our costumes or we made them from things we found around the house or at thrift stores. While they weren't elaborate or expensive, our costumes were special to us and when I had kids I tried to carry on the same traditions. My kids choose what they want to be, and I make it happen. So I couldn't believe it when people had the audacity to say rude things about my kid's Halloween costume. I mean, who does that? They are kids, and Halloween is supposed to be fun.
It honestly seems like some people think that costumes should be a demonstration of wealth, conformity, or gender norms. So, when my daughter wanted to be a vampire/witch/faerie princess, and we made her a strange hybrid costume, no one seemed to get it and a few people let me know that they didn't approve of makeup on kids. She was 7, people, and it was freaking Halloween. Besides, her wearing makeup is totally OK with me, as long as she doesn't use mine. When my son wanted to wear a tutu and a cowboy hat for Halloween, I was cool with that, but not cool with people raising their eyebrows at a boy in a tutu. He was a 2-year-old toddler, you guys. Do we really need to put 2-year-olds in gendered costumes? The answer is no, we actually don't.
Then, last year, both of my sons wanted to be construction workers, so I got them matching costumes, even though I was a bit disappointed that I couldn't convince our four kids to go as the Village People (maybe this year?). Our oldest changed her mind the day before Halloween and went as a "zombie," which meant that she wore her regular clothes and just added a little bit of makeup. I, of course, was happy with any option that made her feel comfortable, because being a tween girl is hard enough.
My kids wear what they want 365 days a year, as long as whatever they're wearing is weather appropriate. You might not understand their creative spirit or approve of what they're wearing, and that's OK as long as you keep your mouth shut. Because, honestly, it's none of your business, and it's not about you. So, please, just let my kids have fun and refrain from saying the following things about their homemade, one-of-a-kind Halloween costumes:
"What Are You Supposed To Be?"
My kids choose their own costumes. Sometimes I don't even know what they are until they tell me. Does someone at every house we stop at need to ask, "What are you supposed to be?" I mean, why do you care?
"Is That Homemade?"
Sometimes it looks like my kids dress themselves, because they totally do dress themselves. I am not going to fight with them about clothes. Parenting is hard enough as it is, and they have a right to bodily autonomy. So if my kids' costumes don't meet your standards, that's OK by me, because the only standards those costumes have to meet are their own. Besides, we can't afford to buy five $50.00 costumes.
"You Look Like Everyone Else"
A couple of years ago, my daughter was literally one of at least 300 Elsas in her school's Halloween parade. That was the costume she chose, though. It didn't matter what I wanted her to wear, and it doesn't matter what you think about it.
"Isn't That The Same Costume She Wore Last Year?"
My daughter has gone as some variation of witch or vampire the past couple of years. It makes her happy and it's easy, because we already have the supplies. Why would I say no to that?
"That's Too Grown Up"
Can we please stop sexualizing kids? My child wearing a short skirt, a bikini top, or red lipstick doesn't make her "slutty." She's a freaking kid. Besides, you shouldn't be slut-shaming anyone on Halloween, and especially not children. If you see a kid in lipstick and think it makes her look like what you perceive to be "sexy" that's your problem, not hers. And gross.
"It Doesn't Conform To Traditional Gender Roles"
My partner and I don't do gender roles in our house, and for some very good reasons. Mainly, because we think they are bullsh*t. If one of our sons wants to wear a skirt, or one of our daughters wants to go as Batman, or either of them wants to dress up as Batman in a skirt on Halloween or any other day, that's fine by me. Please don't say anything about it, unless, that is, you want to complement them on their costume. There's no such thing as a "boy" or "girl" costume. Gender is a social construct and I refuse to force my kids into gendered costumes just because you might be offended.
"You Don't Understand It"
I get it. I haven't always been familiar with the things my kids are into and I've had to look a few things up on the internet. Gone are the days when kids were either a ghost, a witch, or a vampire. Now, kids have a whole internet full of pop culture references to choose from. So, yeah, you might not understand or recognize a costume, but that doesn't mean it's not an awesome depiction of their favorite Pokémon monster or My Little Pony.
"They Aren't Wearing A Costume"
So, yeah, there are 100 reasons why one of my kids might not be in a costume on Halloween. They might have had a tantrum and refused to put it on, it might be too cold for the costume they picked, they might be feeling overwhelmed or anxious, they might have lost a key component of their costume, their costume might not fit, or they might have had an allergic reaction to the face paint. Honestly, those are just a few things that have actually happened to my kids. So, if you see a kid on Halloween who isn't in costume, just assume that you'd best not ask. Instead, just smile, hand over some candy, and say, "Happy Halloween." And maybe even throw in an extra piece for a kid who might not be having a great night.
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