The search for girl Halloween costumes is full of over-sexed and stereotyped “choices.” Here are some fun and positive ideas for you and your daughter from Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed.D. and Sharon Lamb, Ed.D., authors of Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers’ Schemes, to fight back and let her creativity sparkle!
1. She can be anyone or anything on Halloween, so help her think outside the box (especially boxes of store-bought girl Halloween costumes). Imagination and creativity can help girls break out of gender stereotypes…and are great practice for reality.
2. Encourage your daughter to be anyone or anything for Halloween—and for the rest of her life. Encourage her to be inspired by real women doing wild, brave and phenomenal things.
3. Listen to her ideas and encourage all the possibilities. She is bombarded with pink princesses, sexy divas and pop stars, but don’t assume anything—let her costume choice surprise you!
4. Discussing and working on girl Halloween costumes is a great learning and bonding experience. Help her recall the best costumes she ever saw, and share some favorites from your childhood.
5. If she goes for pink and glitter, encourage her to add her own twist and make that pink and glitter DO some-thing. Help her imagine a feisty fairy taking on the evil dragon, a butterfly that saves the world, or a queen who uses her sheath and sword to fight for her crown. She can be a glittered firefighter, or even a sparkly skeleton!
6. Sit down with a paper and pencil and let your daughter create her own character and story. She can raid the family closets or dress-up box to become the wildest or coolest character ever!
7. If your daughter loves scary stories and the history of Halloween, help her go “traditional” and be a witch, Frankenstein, or a ghost. Avoid those sexy diva witch girl Halloween costumes; use your own imagination to create the scary, ugly, and awful look.
8. Draw on your daughter’s favorite book or character. Re-read the book with her to plan what she’ll need to “be” Anne of Green Gables, Dorothy, or Hermione Granger. And don’t rule out boy characters: Dracula, Harry Potter, or even Dumbledore!
9. Is your daughter an athlete or history buff? Halloween is a chance to become Serena Williams, Inbee Park, Mia Hamm, Danica Patrick, Maya Moore, Lindsey Vonn, Pornanong Phatlum, Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart, Joan of Arc, Harriet Tubman, Sally Ride, Golda Meir—the list is endless (and can include males)! Her Jane Goodall can carry a stuffed gorilla; her Van Gogh can wear a bandage on his ear—once you start brainstorming, ideas will flood in.
10. Halloween is all about being what you aren’t…help her stretch her imagination. Teach her that it’s false advertising for stores to label cowpoke, police officer and firefighter costumes as “for boys.” (Then introduce her to the female police officers and fire fighters in your community!) Halloween is a day of imagination—a perfect opportunity to show her that she can be anyone, any profession, any role.
Download a free New Moon Girls magazine excerpt featuring girls in costumes they made themselves!
Get more great ideas for dads and stepdads raising girls in my book Dads and Daughters: How to Inspire, Understand, and Support Your Daughter.
Joe Kelly is the best-selling author of Dads and Daughters: How to Inspire, Understand, and Support Your Daughter and 5 other fathering books. He is also Co-Founder of New Moon Girls.
Photo via Man vs. Pink, a wonderful blog by Simon, a dad with a daughter.