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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Innocence Lost

The facts are these: Halloween costumes for seven and eight year old girls have become increasingly titillating and downright alluring. To add insult to injury, the costumes for tweens have become progressively provocative to such a degree that I feel we have reached an era of “innocence lost.” I mean sexy Halloween costumes for little girls, girls in the single age bracket, is just downright spooky if you stop to think about it. It even sounds like an oxymoronic statement and yet, this Halloween you will come to find that it is true. Though Halloween is months away and we’re still probably reminiscing about the Christmas season and happily anticipating Easter, we really need to wonder what direction children are going in nowadays. Why are witches being replaced by “vampy”witches and why are nurses are being replaced by “naughty” nurses? Whatever happened to just being a kid? At age eight, I personally remember dressing as a cowgirl for Halloween and not one of the naughty variety either. I was just a cowgirl. Plain and simple.

There must certainly be some psychological impact attached to all of this. Maybe, just maybe such an outfit could make the child feel more confident thereby increasing their well being. Maybe. Of course, there are a smorgasbord of negative consequences that come to mind and would seem more likely to result, namely the potential damage to a child’s self-esteem as well as exposing children to elements of a more adult nature before their time. There’s certainly a level of objectification going on here. Manufacturers are marketing costumes with large slits in the skirts and costumes with low cut necklines and furry embellishments. This certainly is alarming because at the end of the day, these little human beings that we all know and love are being treated as objects. Certainly the marketers of such goods are to blame for a lot of this. Halloween is typically at time of year when a child’s imagination can soar, where they can take on the persona of any character or figure and live out the fantasy for a night. But with all this low cut top and short skirt nonsense, it seems marketers are hijacking a child's imagination. They are taking the imaginative essence of Halloween away, stripping children of their innocence, blurring the boundaries of what it means to be a child and what it means to be an adult in the process. But again, the shift from wholesome to sexy is not simply limited to Halloween. The loss of innocence occurs year around and seems inescapable in this media age.

This whole phenomenon certainly reminds me of something attributed to Rachel Carson: “A child's world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.” That being said, perhaps the greatest consequence of this whole phenomenon is that a child loses their innocence in the process. They lose touch with what it means to be a child before reaching even physical adulthood. And I’m not saying that we should model ourselves after Peter Pan and that we should never grow up but there is certainly something to be said of the beauty and innocence of being a child and keeping that spark for as long as time allows.



Anonymous Britt said...

I love this post! The sad part about it all is that it gets even worse as they progress into college. It's frightening!

March 13, 2010 at 12:05 AM  

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