I don’t normally judge other parents. At least not publicly. But when someone does something as grotesque as dressing their child in a Ray Rice costume, I can’t hold back. Yes, I’m judging. I was shocked and disgusted when I saw this photo online:
Someone thought it was ok- funny, even- to dress their kid up as Ray Rice, carrying a doll who represents Janay Rice. Because domestic violence is so funny? I’m not laughing. There is nothing funny about this costume, whether you’re putting on a kid, an adult, or the family pet. I think it’s safe to say you wouldn’t show up at Janay Rice’s home to trick or treat in this costume. So why would you show up anywhere else in it?
On the spectrum of clever versus offensive, there are some costumes, such as the Ray Rice one, that are obviously on the offensive side. And there are others, like the cupcake I saw on Pinterest but never had the energy to make, that are clearly on the clever side. It’s easy to make these distinctions, and even easier to choose appropriate costumes when your kids are young enough to be convinced that whatever you made/bought/threw together at the last minute is awesome.
It gets tricky when the costume idea is somewhere in the murky middle, and even trickier when your child is old enough to have a say in the costume. If I were on the fence about whether a particular costume were ok for my kid to wear, here are the guidelines I’d use:
-If the costume would be hurtful to a person or a group, it’s not ok.
-If the costume makes light of violence, it’s not ok.
-If the costume sexualizes a pre-pubescent child, it’s not ok.
While I certainly do not think tasteless Halloween costumes are the cause of insensitivity and suffering in the world, I do think that as a culture, we are desensitized to sex and violence. Dressing our kids up as wife beaters and Jersey Shore cast members isn’t helping anything. (But damn if that little girl doesn’t look scary similar to Snooki).
How do you decide what’s ok for your kid- or you, for that matter- to wear on Halloween?