If 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.
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.
Photos courtesy of Raina Delisle.
Stephanie Hallett is research editor at Ms. Follow her on Twitter @stephhallett.