Opinion: Halloween costumes put pressure on teenage girls

As we head into the Halloween season, we also begin the process of finding the perfect Halloween costume to celebrate the spookiest day of the year. However, finding costumes that are appropriate and still cute is becoming more and more difficult, especially for teenage girls. 

Starting at around age 12, costumes marketed towards girls become much more scandalous than those for younger females, including short skirts and shorts, cropped and low cut t-shirts, ripped and torn clothing and extremely tight outfits made out of cheap, often somewhat transparent fabric. 

The top costumes for girls 12 and up in 2020 were aliens, Bratz Dolls, cowgirls, and frat boys according to a study conducted by Syracuse University. All of these costumes traditionally consist of short-shorts or skirts, crop tops or oversized shirts and a headpiece such as a headband or hat. 

These costume designs are extremely revealing, and leave little room for movement. Costumes that are appropriate are often overdone and outdated. With the options offered being extremely restrictive and uncomfortable, the only option left for teenage girls seeking a more modest costume is to make a costume or not participate in Halloween at all. These pressures from society greatly impact the mental health of girls, starting at a very young age, as they attempt to decipher how they want to present themselves to the world.

SKIMPY AND SCANDALOUS One of the most popular Halloween costumes from 2020, Harley Quinn, was advertised by Walmart for girls twelve and up and limited only to sizes extra small and small. “The outfits [offered are] either really immature or excessively short or just not [made] for my body type,” Juarez said. (Photo courtesy of Walmart.)

Sophomore Sam Juarez understands this sentiment as she has gone through the near-impossible task of finding a Halloween costume as a teenage girl for the past 3 years. 

“If you’re trying to make a costume [at the] last minute, and you don’t know where to go or what to get, you’ll end up picking one up from the store,” Juarez said. “Those are obviously options that you know you probably don’t want to wear…because they’re so short and inappropriate.” 

In addition to finding an appropriate costume being nearly impossible, another main thought on many young girls’ minds during the weeks before Halloween is whether or not what they are wearing is “cool ” enough to fit in, but appropriate enough to wear in front of family or at school. The task can be daunting. 

With all of the unspoken rules and expectations that go hand-in-hand with choosing a costume, it is nearly impossible for girls to freely express themselves without concern of what others are thinking. 

Junior Sydney Roberson expresses her issues with finding costumes that weren’t trendy or cool at that time. This has left her with no choice but to make her own costumes. 

“[I started making my own costumes] because when I was younger I was a really big book nerd, so I would be book characters for Halloween,” Roberson said. “There are no Halloween costumes for book characters for the kind of books that I read, so I would just…create my own costume with clothes I put together on my own.” 

FIVE TO TWENTY FIVE: Junior Sarah Kubasek poses in her third grade homemade cat Halloween costume. With a black t-shirt and skirt, bow tie, headband, and a little makeup, she created her own costume— school appropriate and completely modest. Starting at age eleven, costumes such as these sold at stores become oversexualized, extremely specific to certain body types, and unsuitable for most teens. Often, these store-bought costumes only run in sizes extra small to medium. “The outfits [offered are] either really immature or excessively short or just not [made] for my body type,” Sophomore Juarez said. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Kubasek.)

Roberson is not the only girl who struggled with finding a costume that fit her interests. Oftentimes those who are not interested in what is currently trendy or popular have a very difficult time finding a costume that fits their personality or replicates their favorite character. 

This issue often leads to young girls straying away from the things they are interested in, growing up too fast and pushing away their favorite movies or books so that they may fit in or seem cool. 

Society should be encouraging kids and teens to enjoy their childhoods, and not push them to stop liking their favorite superhero or princess just because they cannot find a costume that is appropriate for them, or because it isn’t cool at the moment.

As a whole, society should allow everyone, especially teenage girls, to wear whatever they feel comfortable and confident in, whether that is a crop top and skirt, or a turtleneck and jeans. The expectation for Halloween costumes should be whatever each person feels comfortable in, not a competition for who can wear the most revealing outfit.