Packaging Girlhood: Halloween & Girls

Your Daughter’s Halloween Costume: Tips for Dads

Rescuing Our Daughters From Marketers' SchemesThe search for your daughter or stepdaughter’s Halloween costume can be treacherous, filled with over-sexed and stereotyped “choices.” Here are some healthy ideas from Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed.D. and Sharon Lamb, Ed.D., authors of Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers’ Schemes (St. Martin’s Press, 2006), 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 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 Halloween costumes is a great learning and bonding experiences. Help her recall the best costumes she ever say, and share some favorites from your childhood.
  5. If she goes for pink and glitter, encourage her to add her own twist and have her pink and glitter DO some-thing. Help her imagine a feisty fairy taking on the evil dragon, a butterfly that saves the insect 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 won 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 cary stories and the history of Halloween, help her go “traditional” and be a witch, Frankenstein, or a ghost. Avoid those sexy diva witch 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 Lorena Ochoa, Mia Hamm, Danica Patrick, Sheryl Swoopes, Se Ri Pak, 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 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.

To learn more about healthy fathering of girls, visit
DADs: Making the world safe and fair for our daughters

Reprinted with permission. © Joe Kelly. All Rights Reserved.

Suggested Titles:

A Girl's Guide to Seeing Through Celebrity Hype and Celebrating Real Beauty

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