My favorite Halloween memory of you is the year you insisted on being Buzz Lightyear. No princess or ladybug for you, no, you wanted the guy who could fly and saved the universe. I can still feel your little gloved hand, hear the squeak of white plastic, see the flashing lights of your wings (because of course you couldn’t accept wings that didn’t flash!) as you ran up and down the street, sneaking mouthfuls of candy and dodging other superheros.
This year, we stood in the store looking at the massive wall of costumes and I watched you touch the red satin of the “Sexy Red Riding Hood” dress, complete with thigh highs and a corset. You looked at me and said “It’s pretty.” I shook my head and you nodded, saying “it’s not modest though.”
It’s not modest.
I grew up in a time when modesty was the mark of a “good christian girl.” That girl had her christian conference/camp t-shirt on, her to- the- knee shorts, and her True Love Waits ring firmly lodged on her finger and heart. She would never even consider Sexy Red Riding Hood costume. Costumes like that were for *those* girls. I never really had a grasp on who *those* girls were or how we were to avoid becoming like them, but it was clear if a little bit of cotton and denim was good, then a lot of cotton and denim was even better.
Modesty has been boiled down to simple thread count.
But let me tell you why I say no.
Sexy Red sends the message that the ultimate desire of women is to be seductive and garner attention. We don’t want to be smart, or creative, or funny, or kind- no, our deepest desire MUST be to attract and hold that power over others. And of course, if you DO want to be smart or funny or anything other than sexy, there might be something a little wrong with you. We quickly follow that up with banal messages- “baby, you’re a firework!”, “you’re amazing, just the way you are!” We tell you that inside counts the most, then we quietly snicker and put together a sexy doctor costume.
Sexy Red sends the message that of COURSE you can be anything you want to be….as long as you are beautiful too. Being a police officer isn’t enough, you must serve and protect your image as well. You want to be an astronaut? No problem, but be sure to bring your lipstick. If you think I’m exaggerating, ask me how many women I know who won’t go to the grocery store without mascara on. Ask me how many dancers and gymnasts spend hours in therapy for eating disorders. Ask me about when Hilary Clinton ran for president and people talked ad nauseum about her hair.
Sexy Red sends the message that seductive=skin. And how quickly many a True Love Waits girl has been tricked into thinking that choosing to cover her skin means she is above temptation! I don’t want you to believe either lie that you can’t be attractive without showing off your body OR that if you don’t show off your body, you or others won’t be tempted to lust. Lust is a heart issue love, not a skin issue. It’s not us versus them.
The worst part of Sexy Red? She’s subtle. She wraps her messages up in satin and an innocent looking basket so you don’t even realize you are wrapping those ideas around your heart.
When you were three, you wanted to be Buzz Lightyear and help those in trouble. Don’t let Sexy Red change that.