How Adults Stole Halloween from American ChildrenRoundup: Historians' Take
tags: sex, Halloween
Jonathan Zimmerman teaches history and education at New York University. He is the author of Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory (Yale University Press).
In 1975, anthropologist Margaret Mead published a plaintive article about Halloween. It was once a night of youth rebellion, Mead wrote, when “children were granted to take mild revenge on the adults.” But the holiday had been tamed, leaving the grown-ups firmly in charge. “Where has all the mischief gone?” Mead asked.
Now it's back, marketers tell us. Witness the boom in so-called “naughty” girls’ costumes, a centerpiece of the $8 billion Halloween seasonal industry. Seven- and eight-year-olds can trick-or-treat as sexy Snow Whites, sexy Dorothies, and even sexy Little Bo Peeps (don't ask). And this season, Walmart has been selling a “Naughty Leopard” costume – complete with black lace and cabaret sparkles – for, yes, two-year-olds.
Tasteless? Yes. A threat to young girls’ body image? You bet. But “naughty” and nonconformist? Hardly. The sexy-costume trend reveals how far we have strayed from the truly naughty roots of Halloween, which used to be a time for kids to challenge their elders. Now it allows them to imitate the grown-ups, via the most American ritual of all: mass consumerism. Sexualized costumes are just another way that adult consumerism has invaded American childhood....
comments powered by Disqus
- Jill Lepore Reviews Seven New Books About the Apollo 11 Mission
- ‘Reckoning’ Follows a 50-Year Road to #MeToo
- The Daughters of the Confederacy Who Turned Their Heritage to Political Ends
- What Should Happen to Confederate Statues? A City Auctions One for $1.4 Million
- Richmond Is at a Crossroads. Will Arthur Ashe Boulevard Point the Way?
- Leading historians and academics to launch five-year project to chronicle the UK's history dating back to 1603
- Holocaust historians divided over Warsaw ghetto museum
- The Holocaust Survivor Who Deciphered Nazi Doublespeak
- Peter Selz, Curator and Art Historian Committed to the New, Is Dead at 100
- When John Hope Franklin and Pepsi Made a Black History Record