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Wallace: Halloween has gone haywire

Pumpkin picking.

Pumpkin picking. Photo Credit: Flickr/Katie Killary

Next week is Halloween. And I have a few things to say about Halloween.

First, when did Halloween become so expensive? You used to buy candy, pumpkins, a costume and maybe a door decoration for your house. Now the ghoulish holiday has become big business for consumers.

Halloween rivals Christmas in the amount of indoor and outdoor home decorations people put up. Homeowners go all-out, decorating their whole front yards complete with orange Halloween lights and inflatables in the shapes of ghosts and black cats just to name a few.

Pumpkin carving has become an art form with intricate stencil designs and Pinterest-inspired jack-o-lanterns.

I must admit that I too have looked to Pinterest for Halloween decorating ideas. The friendly monster on my front door made of masking tape, streamers and paper plates, was completely Pinterest inspired.

The National Retail Federation forecasts that Americans will spend about $7.4 billion total for 2014 on Halloween.

Halloween candy alone runs about $2 billion every Halloween for the past three years, though the candy industry says that bad weather can lower the numbers slightly. The National Confectioners Association says it is expecting candy sales to reach $2.5 billion for this year.

In part due to the fact that if you are anything like me, you buy a big bag of candy with the full intention of saving it for trick-or-treaters but end up gobbling it up weeks before Halloween and find yourself having to go buy more. This cycle happens about three times before Halloween in our household.

And the NRF estimates that people spend $350 million just on Halloween costumes for their pets. This figure does not surprise me since some people are very into their pets and dressing them up on a regular basis so why should Halloween be any different? Even with those figures, annually, Halloween doesn't even make the top five when it comes to holiday spending. Mother's Day and Valentine's Day both command double the dollar amount of spent on Halloween. According to the NRF, even the Super Bowl tops Halloween in terms of consumer spending.

But I think it is safe to say that more is spent on the holiday than in the past.

Which brings me to my other point. There is an alarming trend that seems to keep getting worse year after year. I recently looked at a certain store's website, which specializes in Halloween costumes, and in browsing through the choices there is a distinct difference between women's and teen girls' costumes and all the rest.

If you look closely, in front of every name for a women's costume is the word "sassy," "sexy," "flirty," "hot" or "vixen." Yes consumers, if you are a woman and you want to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, you have to be a "sexy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle." (That's a real costume, by the way - a sexy turtle.) Forget about Frankenstein or a police officer, you are now a "Sassy Frankenstein" or a "sultry police officer." And all those costumes include garter belts, knee-high stockings, low-cut tops and very short skirts.

The only difference with the teen costumes is that they include tights to somehow mask how short the skirts are for the girls.

Now I can understand some women wanting to dress provocatively for Halloween but what I don't like is when those types of costumes are the only ones the stores sell.

Good luck if you are a woman trying to find a Halloween costume at a store that doesn't come with the moniker of sexy, sultry, sassy or flirty.

Why does it have to be that way? What kind of message are we sending to young girls? Doesn't society objectify women enough already without forcing us to choose from only these types of costumes on a holiday that was originally meant for children?

I guess I am going to stick to putting together a homemade costume again this year from things I find around the home or at Goodwill.


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