- The Washington Times - Friday, October 7, 2011

What’s happened to Halloween? I live around the corner from one of those pop-up costume shops, and looking in the window is truly frightening. Not because of all the ghouls and goblins, but because of what can only be described as the debasement of Halloween. There are the sexy nurse, sexy teacher, sexy witch, naughty nun - a seemingly endless supply of not sexy, but R-rated costumes.

Since when did Halloween become an excuse to dress so, well, slutty?

Remember when you were little and were excited to make costumes from things you had around the house? I remember dressing as a clown, a cowgirl, a hobo and ghost. Now little girls look forward to dressing as what - sexy Strawberry Shortcake?

Oh, wait, make that Snooki. Yes, that icon of American pop culture has her own costume. And what parent wouldn’t be proud to dress up her little darling as a star from “Jersey Shore”? Twentysomethings getting drunk and sleeping with strangers in a shared bedroom - why, there’s nothing more charming or worthy of imitation.

Snooki aside, take a walk down the aisle of the girls and tween sections, and you’ll see - it truly is the Little Shop of Horrors. Honestly, the vast majority of costumes include high-heeled shoes, thigh-high boots and fishnet stockings. The costumes are almost identical to the adult set, just made for little girls.

Worse yet, the store is always packed. Little boys looking to be titillated need look no further than their local Halloween shop.

I understand adults enjoy the holiday, too, and you don’t want to be standing around at a party dressed like a banana. But isn’t there some middle ground? What do little girls think when, after trick-or-treating, they come home and watch mommy dress up as sexy pirate for her party?

I forgot. The little girl probably was dressed up as one, too.

Halloween used to be an innocent holiday. Now it’s like a smut-fest. Walking around in some of these costumes any other day of the year would get you arrested. But on Oct. 31, why, it’s so cute to see Sally dressed up as Lady Gaga, replete with pasties.

It’s surreal. Parents used to be outraged when kids dressed like that; now we’re giving them the green light to wear this sort of get-up every Halloween. We’re objectifying our children en masse. Is it a wonder teens and tweens are having sex parties, that “Teen Mom” is actually a TV show?

Parents can lament the use of social media, worry that their kids are being preyed upon online, but sending them off with friends dressed as a hooker on Halloween?Why, that’s fine. It’s all in good fun!

Halloween used to be a time for family - a time for kids to be kids. It was about carving pumpkins, drinking cider and watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

Now it seems to be a contest to see who can dress the most lewdly and lasciviously. Is that really what we want for ourselves? Our families?

Let’s bring the old Halloween back.

Tricia Owen is a freelance writer in Atlanta.

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