If you know me, you know that I have a sensitivity to violence. Maybe it's because I've struggled with fear in the past. So of course, I have a strong aversion to any of the dark, gruesome decor and costumes that you see around Halloween. Those have always been around, scary masks, death-themed front yards, and the like. I could do without all that.
But what shocks me more every year is not the scary stuff. That I expect. What I'm most disturbed by is the increasingly provocative array of costumes for little girls. This year, while I was at Target, I was blown away by the choices. This line, as I stared at it on the hangars, left me standing there speechless.
It's called Monster High. If you've never heard of it, like I hadn't, these are the dolls from which the costumes are derived. I'd describe the outfits as either in the goth-stripper category or the goth-Brittney Spears-in-the-naughty-school-girl-outfit. Which is essentially the same thing. And friends. These costumes went down to a size that could fit a first or second grader. Did you catch the footwear worn by the girls modeling the costumes? I don't believe the shoes come with the outfits at Target, but the look on the picture is definitely being sold to small children as pretty, fashionable, and acceptable. (By the way, where exactly might one find knee-high, platform, lace-up vinyl boots in a child's size 2?)
I'm not going to take this opportunity to begin a diatribe against our culture for not protecting its children. A culture that no longer simply winks it's eye at immodesty, but that unashamedly promotes the sexual objectification of children's bodies. Read that sentence again. This is real. Mainstream. At Target. It's enough to turn my stomach.
What I can address, however, is my personal struggle to train up my daughter against the driving current of the world. One of her close friends purchased one of the above costumes. This girl lives in a Christian home. I simply asked her what she was going to be for Halloween, and her exact words to me were, "It's soooo cute and not inappropriate at all." Usually quick on my feet with words, I simply did not know how to respond. I couldn't tell if this child was defending herself on a presumption that I'd disapprove, or just repeating what she'd heard. And what does this tell me about her internal gauge as to what is or is not appropriate?
The word that comes to mind is the one my dad uses to describe himself when it comes to watching shows with violent content: desensitized.
It's a difficult job raising modest daughters in this day and age. And I expect it is just as difficult to raise a son who can turn his eyes away from the parade of sexualized young ladies long enough to make wise choices. I'm not quite at that point with my 6 year old son. But with my 9 year old daughter, yes, we're going there. She can't understand sexuality in any way yet, but she can understand basics: that some girls try to get attention by showing their bodies, instead of realizing their worth comes from the inside.
She'll be a cowgirl, come Monday night, by the way. She was so excited to choose it off the Target rack. The skirt was a little bit short since she's tall for her age, but it's nothing a pair of brown leggings underneath can't solve. I tell my daughter that God made her body beautiful. She doesn't have a sense that her body is bad or shameful; just that modesty is a value in our home. We'll get to deeper conversations on "why" when she is a bit older.
For now, though, I'm curious. How do you handle issues of modesty in your house?