The only costumes available for little boys in the Halloween mega store are:
combat soldiers (complete with ammunition)
a gangsta (including tighty whiteys and “gold” bling)
and – get this – a jailbird with an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs!
Who, please tell me, is dressing up her 5 -year old in prison garb? I’m fuming and ask the sales girl, who couldn’t care less, “don’t you have any CUTE costumes for little boys? Something OTHER than a CRIMINAL or GI JOE?” She offhandedly points me to our other options: a hot dog and a banana. A hot dog and a banana?! Great. My child can dress like a phallic freak instead.
I’m not sure what I want, exactly. The girls’ costumes aren’t much better: pink princess, blue and red princess, yellow princess, mermaid princess, Hannah Montana, gypsy princess, fairy princess, Barbie, “High School Musical” cheerleader…
“This is Los Angeles!”, I think. A metropolis, a sophisticated city where our children attend fancy preschools so they may experience a new set of rules and think outside the box.
I should point out that the store does carry “cute” costumes – puppies, monkeys, lobsters, lions – but only for infants and toddlers. It is clear that after 2T / 4T, a child is to either wield a weapon or wear a tiara.
Gender stereotypes are alive and well in 2009.
I play a part in this too. Because the truth is, I suspect Leo would love to be a princess for Halloween. He doesn’t say this outright (this alone breaks my heart); I can tell by the way he admires the dresses. Who could blame him? Compare the cotton-candy taffeta to the camouflage, the sparkly wand to the gray plastic sword! He is young, tender, and it means nothing. But I can only go so far as to promise him a new princess dress for his costume trunk at home. My mind will simply not open as much as it must in order to see him in ball gown and crown next to his friends in foam muscles and capes. He might get teased. I fear for his embarrassment and would be ashamed of my own.
We go home instead with sparkly shoes for his dress-up trunk and purchase an adorable black kitten costume online.