Victory! Thrift Store Pulls Sexy Halloween Costumes for Girls

Screen shot 2014-10-22 at 3.29.33 PMIf you’re a Halloween enthusiast, you may know that one of the best places to pick up inexpensive pre-fab costumes is the local thrift store. What you probably wouldn’t expect to see are skimpy, sexed-up outfits for little girls—but that’s exactly what one Canadian thrift store had on offer recently.

Mom and writer Raina Delisle penned a gobsmacked Huffington Post Canada blog post this week after stumbling upon a line of costumes for girls—including firefighter, police officer and even pumpkin outfits—that she described as “skin tight, short, shiny” and “surely flammable.”

“[The girls firefighter costume] was a skin-tight skimpy dress,” Delisle told British Columbia newspaper The Province. “It also came with a fascinator instead of a real helmet. I was absolutely disgusted.” The pumpkin costume featured a corset and ribboned bodice.

The boys costumes, on the other hand, reflected the professions they were modeled after: The firefighter ensemble, for example, included a coat, helmet and plastic axe—just what you’d need to do the job. Said Delisle,

The message this sends is that boys can do the real job and wear the real gear, girls cannot. Girls can only dress up in ensembles that put the focus on their appearance instead of their abilities.

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Diane Sowden, executive director of the Children of the Street Society, was also not impressed. She told Metro,

It makes light of the issue of sexual exploitation of children and youth. We all know sex sells, but not on the backs of our children and our youth.

Delisle’s blog post went viral, with major news outlets across Canada covering the controversy. To their credit, Value Village responded promptly and thoroughly: The chain issued a statement this week saying they’ll pull the offending outfits from shelves.

Said Value Village communications director Sara Gaugl,

We’ve taken the recent comments surrounding certain Halloween costumes sold in our stores very seriously and, as such, are removing this merchandise from our sales floors. We apologize to those who were offended, and as we move forward we will evaluate all costumes and packaging keeping this specific customer feedback in mind.

Maybe next year Value Village’s buyers will think a little more critically about their costume choices—for kids and adults.

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Photos courtesy of Raina Delisle.



Stephanie Hallett is research editor at Ms. Follow her on Twitter @stephhallett.


  1. Sandy Todd says:

    Actually it means that being a girl and wearing cute clothes has NOTHING to do with the ability to do a job. It would be nice if feminists would stop thinking we have to look like men and act like men in order to be equal. Plus, when you teach a 5 year old that she has to wear a certain type of clothing in order to not be “sexualized”, you’re actually teaching her that her clothing dictates how men treat her when she’s an adult.

    • Well said!

    • Sandy, a firefighter could certainly not work in a tight, tiny, flammable, short dress, and I’m not sure about the police officer but I guess not. Feminists don’t think women have to look like men, feminists think girls should not be made to wear tiny skirts. Also, men are not born with trousers on, putting a pair of trousers on does not make one look like a man. Growing a penis will do that, but that is not what we are talking about here. Besides, if there were also a tiny skirted, sexed-up option for the boys, it would already be a different story.

    • The problem here is not dressing like men: the point is that boy’s outfits are the realistic cool ones, and those for girls are unconfortable, unrealistic and dumb-looking.

  2. I want to add, making girls look ‘cute’ from a young age teaches them the lesson that they should strive for cuteness, and cuteness means looking adorable to others. Adults will praise them ‘O, you look so cute today!’, ‘What a beautiful new dress’, and they learn that they can get attention and appreciation by looking cute. Boys learn an entirely different lesson.
    But these skimpy halloween outfits are not just ‘cute’, they are sexualized, and why would you want to make a 5 year old look sexually attractive?
    Complaining to a strore is absolutely not the same as telling a 5 year old to not wear a tiny dress because of objectification.

  3. Sandy, these costumes are really just a primer for the total gender disparity in adult costumes. Retailers offer women costumes to reflect almost every profession and object under the sun, but as a stripper getup. You can be a sexy nurse, a sexy soldier, a sexy witch or a sexy box of crayons–it’s all different variations on the same mini-mini skirt, crop top/corset and thigh highs. Real female cop uniforms don’t have skirts. Real women firefighters wear helmets, not fascinators. (Pumpkins don’t wear clothes, so I guess that one is up for debate). Little kids are, for all intents and purposes, sexless beings, so there shouldn’t be such an emphasis on setting girls’ costumes apart with skirts and pretty little hats. Let them wear the same proper representations of what they’re dressing as as the boys do for a few years, at least, before they become disillusioned with Halloween as “an excuse for women to dress slutty.”

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