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Today's Family Magazine

It’s Halloween -- What will your child be?

By Stacy Turner

It’s nearly fall and, like most families with children, thoughts at our house have been focused on what to dress as for Halloween.  In Halloweens past, my girls’ costumes have run the gauntlet, from various princesses and Tinkerbelle, to animals like a tiger and an alligator.  They’ve dressed as an Indian (the Native American variety), a butterfly, a bumblebee, a doctor, a cheerleader, and Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.  It’s always interesting to hear their ideas, and fun helping them bring their ideas to life.

They’ve always had fun at their annual costume parades and parties at school, and were able to use them for trick-or-treating around town, too.  Like most families in northeast Ohio, we had to plan their Halloween costumes with contingencies against weather conditions.  One year, kids could be trick-or-treating in balmy 70+ degree temperatures, while the next could drop to the 30s or 40s with vertical rain or even snow.  Extra layers under costumes or outer layers that fit the ‘theme’ are crucial so the weather doesn’t interfere with maximum candy collection.

Last year, both girls decided to be superheroes.  One was Batman, while the other was Captain America.  When we started costume shopping, the superhero costumes we found for tween kids were divided into two very distinct categories -- macho male and trashy female. While the boy’s versions offered full-coverage pants and shirts that included sewn-in "sculpted" abs and beefy biceps, the female versions offered form-fitting tops, short skirts or tutus, and glittery masks.  According to my husband, the choices were a little too "hoochie mama" for serious consideration.  The presence of glitter earned them a definitive "no" from the girls.

It doesn’t take super powers to figure out that female crime-fighter costumes leave lady super heroes at a disadvantage in their fight against evil.  Who has time to focus on the dastardly deeds of the Joker or Hydra when you’re busy wrestling with a wedgy or trying to prevent a serious wardrobe malfunction?  While the costume choices were not acceptable, our girls did like the variety of masks available.  Not surprisingly, they each chose the "boy"versions of the masks, which were made of more realistic-looking molded rubber.  We chose to come up with the rest of the costumes on our own.

Black leggings and black boots made quick work of Batman’s bottom half, while a black T-shirt, modified with yellow felt Bat-accouterments created the upper part of our dark knight’s disguise. Another black T-shirt was cut into a convincing-looking bat cape.  More leggings and a custom-made T-shirt dressed our Captain America.  Since the chintzy plastic shields for sale did not meet the requirements of our captain, we made her special armor by painting the captain’s patriotic insignia on a plastic trash can lid.  Our illustrious heroes were pleased with their costumes, and both Halloween and humanity were spared.

This year, my eight-grader has the chance to work together with friends to come up with a prize-worthy group costume for their special middle school costume contest.  Before school started, they began tossing around ideas.  Surprisingly, one group decided to dress as the Spice Girls, which had to be someone’s mom’s idea.  After they Googled the '90s girl-group to learn just who the heck they were, my daughter and some friends vetoed that idea, and are now considering being Taco Bell sauce packets, Nemo and friends, or perhaps roller coaster enthusiasts.

My younger child hasn’t decided on her costume yet.  She’s at that awkward size and age where regular clothing in the girl’s department still fits, but the styles are too juvenile. And the juniors-sized clothes she prefers don’t yet fit her small frame. She recently announced that she needs new clothes, since everything she owns makes her look like a bingo grandma or a 6-year-old.  Who knows -- maybe she’s discovered a contest-worthy combination all on her own.  Only time and creativity will tell what the girls decide to dress as.  The only definitive answer is that they won’t look hoochie.

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