It’s Halloween season! You know what that means- pumpkin spice lattes, carved pumpkins, and plenty of costume planning. The versatility and diversity that accompany costumes certainly add that extra bit of magic to the holiday. However, certain costumes can derail from the Halloween spirit and can instead promote immoral and appalling messages.
Sexy schoolgirl costumes have been a trend for quite some time. A simple Google search of ‘schoolgirl’ vs a search of ‘schoolboy’ will make the stark contrast conspicuous. The former contains a majority of mature women dressed up in provocative uniforms, while the latter is primarily cartoons or pictures of actual little boys. This blatant sexualization of young girls, despite any harmless intent, perpetuates a history of pedophilia which has been rampant in our world for centuries and is still present today across the board.
The sexualization of young girls has roots in gender inequality pedophilia. While there are plenty of elements that are part of these categories, the practice of marrying off young girls to much older men is a pressing matter that is only worsening with time. Countries including Niger, South Sudan, and India are infamous for having staggering numbers of child brides. Globally, “37,000 girls under the age of 18 are married each day.”
Child marriage is, in many cases, a cultural tradition, and is therefore seen as a norm within a vast number of rural patriarchal communities. These communities tend to see girls become women once they menstruate, despite the fact that the average age for girls to receive their first period is only twelve.
The consequences for a girl that is forced to marry well before she has matured both physically and emotionally can be severe, and in some cases, life-threatening. After being married off, most girls are deprived of their innocence, their families, and their chance at an education. Commonly, these young girls are also at risk of a heightened list of pregnancy complications, due to their body’s lack of necessary maturity. The International Women’s Health Coalition reports that “girls under 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s”, which not only puts the mother at risk, but her child as well.
Another issue that is as similarly disturbing as and is a part of child marriage includes general sexual abuse committed against young girls. RAINN states that “one in 9 girls…under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult.” The consequences of sexual abuse, especially when committed against children, can lead to a number of alarming consequences that can worsen over time. Such ramifications include mental disorders such as PTSD and depression, which contain damaging symptoms within themselves.
Our society’s systemic problem with sexism coupled with a tendency towards victim-blaming makes it more difficult for affected girls to receive help while making it easier for young and old offenders alike to get away with immoral and dehumanizing actions. The multi-dimensional media and individuals alike are at fault for the consistent sexualization of young girls that is put out daily in the forms of social media posts, movies, tv-shows, and much more.
Participating in the naughty school girl trend is directly participating in this harmful pattern of sexualization. While you’re entitled to wear what makes you feel comfortable, try to stay away from costumes that are embedded in systemic sexism and pedophilia. Rather, pick one that demonstrates that light-hearted Halloween spirit we all know and love.
Photo: Garin Chadwick via Unsplash