Thursday, October 3, 2013

Real Talk With Rachel: Are You Buying It?

by Rachel Kurzius

Dear Rachel,

My daughter is nine years old. Now that it is October she is very excited for Halloween. She wants to buy a costume from one of those Halloween stores to go trick-or-treating in. I am very opposed to this idea, because the costumes are not cheap and she will only wear it once. When I grew up, we would make and piece together our own costumes. But my daughter seems very intent on getting one of these store-bought costumes. Should I relent?

Trick-or-Treat My Daughter

Dear Trick-or-Treat My Daughter,

I am with you on store-bought costumes. They are a huge waste of money and entirely unoriginal. Your daughter might not share these values with us, however. I remember being your daughter's age and wanting one of the pre-packaged costumes so badly. There was mystique in their ease, and I found the idea getting a
special Halloween treat very appealing.

Talk to your daughter about what she wants to be for Halloween. Perhaps the two of you can brainstorm ways to create the costume at home, depending on your family's level of do-it-yourself aptitude. Go to a craft store or, if you're a pack rat, your own closet (or some combination) for the pieces you'll need. It could
be a very fun and creative project.

If you're less crafty, though, it could be a recipe for frustration. When other kids have their sleek, store-bought numbers, your daughter could feel embarrassed by her costume. That's not the end of the world (experiences like that can build character and she'll laugh about it in ten years), but the fact that you're even writing me tells me that trying to keep your daughter happy this Halloween.

It sounds like, while price isn't an issue for your budget, the principle of the matter bugs you. If you do decide to relent and go store-bought, you might want to find a way for your daughter to earn the costume. October has only just begun, so you can establish some new chores or tasks for your daughter to complete
in order to buy the Halloween ensemble. That way, she knows that the costume didn't just magically arrive from the store. She might feel extra pride knowing that she worked for it.

One thing that really bugs me about those store-bought costumes, especially for girls, is the way that they sexualize just about every known character and profession. Normally those costumes arrive after puberty, but be on the lookout if you do go store-bought, because there's no reason to have a nine-year-old
sexy Oompa Loompa.

All best,


Rachel Kurzius revels in giving advice, and has provided counsel both as a columnist and a friend. She lives in Washington DC, where she works as a news producer. Real Talk with Rachel is published on All Life is Local and the Cleveland Park Listserv,, on Wednesdays or Thursdays. Need advice? You can write to Rachel via or advice @

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