Feel trapped by over-sexed and over-commercialized Halloween costumes for your daughter? You should. The search for Halloween costumes can be treacherous, filled with over-sexed and stereotyped "choices."
These healthy ideas from Drs. Lyn Mikel Brown and Sharon Lamb (authors of Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers' Schemes) help Dads fight back and let her creativity sparkle! (Use these tips with your sons, too--kids' resiliency grows if they don't get stuck in arbitrary gender roles.)
1. 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 her to be anyone or anything for Halloween--and the rest of her life. Help 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. Discuss and work on Halloween costumes together. It's a great learning and bonding experience. Help her recall the best costumes she ever saw, and share some favorites from your childhood.
5. Add her own twist to pink and glitter, and have her character DO something. Help her imagine a feisty fairy taking on the evil dragon, a butterfly that saves the insect world, or a queen who fights for her country with sheath and sword. She can be a glittered firefighter, or even a sparkly skeleton!
6. Sit down 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. Tap her love for scary 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 her favorite book or character. Reread the book with her to plan what she'll need to "be" Anne of Green Gables, Dorothy of Oz, 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 when stores 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.