Straight Talk Advice

Oct 26, 2011

Risks of risqué Halloween dressing

DEAR STRAIGHT TALK: You wrote last week about how risqué attire can draw unwanted attention and lead to trouble if a girl is naive or insecure. How does this relate to Halloween? My daughter (almost 17) and her friends are planning to dress like “ladies of the night.” Should I be concerned? Or is this one night they can get away with it without being judged badly, or worse, endangered? What safety rules should I pass on? —Concerned Mother

Katie 18, Auburn, Calif. Ask me a question

Halloween is my once-a-year “hall pass.” But, be warned! Slutty dressing sends a message — even at Halloween. Safety rules: Never go anywhere alone. Stay with your friends. If they aren’t immediately around you, stay where it’s crowded. Be cautious of creepy guys (they are everywhere). Don’t set your drink down, ever.

Justin 24, Redding, Calif. Ask me a question

Sixteen is too young to dress like a “lady of the night.” However, sexy costumes have come to be expected. Notice I used the word “sexy,” not “slutty,” big difference.

Nate 17, Toledo, Ohio Ask me a question

Dressing up for Halloween is great fun. However, dressing as a slut crosses a line. We need to set an example for little kids. It’s really their holiday.

Mariah 20, Collinsville, Okla. Ask me a question

I wish Halloween was like it used to be. Every year they make costumes shorter and more revealing.

Taylor 14, Santa Rosa, Calif. Ask me a question

I’m going as Minnie Mouse for crying out loud, but all you see advertised are trashy costumes! If your daughter doesn’t normally dress slutty, she won’t get judged by me. But at school, girl after girl has her butt hanging out of her shorts and her breasts half exposed. Those taking this look farther, will look even more desperate and easy.

Jessie 19, Eugene, Oregon Ask me a question

A “sexy” costume is okay, but there is a line between “trashy” and “sexy”. I judge girls who overdo it and boys consider them easy — yes, even on Halloween.

Christina 19, Marysville, Calif. Ask me a question

Depending on the setting and how far a girl takes her costume, she will get judged.

Brie 20, Santa Barbara, Calif. Ask me a question

It’s fun to be slutty for one night. But be aware that it will attract negative attention. And parties only increase that. The thing to do is look sexy, not like you’re working a corner. Remember: bad things can happen no matter what you’re wearing, so stay with your friends.

Katelyn 16, Huntington Beach, Calif. Ask me a question

Trashy dressing on Halloween may be “in” but it’s not safe, especially with drunken males around.

Molly 19, Berkeley, Calif. Ask me a question

Girls definitely dress more revealingly on Halloween and I suspend judgment that night. Nonetheless, slutty dressing is ALWAYS slutty. And while it isn’t an invitation to sleep with someone, it IS an invitation to look. Many boys get these two things confused. For a sexy (not slutty) look, choose between low-cut or short, but not both. Best: a clever costume.

DEAR CONCERNED MOM: These days, the word “slutty” (meaning anything from “sexy” to “trashy”) is dropped more carelessly than popcorn at a bad movie. Nonetheless, the panel was clear that, even at Halloween, there is such a thing as too slutty. Not only will it get you judged socially, but most girls aren’t wise or secure enough to handle the sexual attention it brings — and that’s without alcohol or other drugs.

To dress as a “lady of the night” should be forbidden. But for older teens, I can accept a semi-sexy character outfit. Dress-up can be cathartic, perhaps even an unconscious inoculation against the hyper-sexualized images received nonstop from the media.

Katie’s safety tips are essential — no matter what you’re wearing. In addition, tell or remind your daughter to call you if she feels unsafe and you’ll be there, no questions asked. Such unconditional caring generally works in a parent’s favor.

Editor’s Note: Parents: “I’ll come get you, no questions asked” doesn’t mean you avoid or ignore an obvious elephant in the room. That’s one of the worst things a parent can do. It means that you approach things with a level head, a caring heart and a tone that says, “I’m listening and opening my mind to understand you, and I’m also no pushover and it’s my job as a parent to keep you on the right track.” That’s what teens want! This includes them actually wanting you to give them boundaries and/or consequences that are fair and fitting to the situation. This may or may not include a “get out of jail free card” if you’ve promised one. It really depends on what you find when you pick up your child and if your child is showing signs of problems elsewhere in his or her life.

What you don’t want to do is react and sling consequences born from anger, knee-jerk projections from your own past hurts, or panic over your parental image. These generally do not fit the crime and the unfairness generally incites rebellion in the teen, sometimes a silent or manipulative one. In all cases, respect is lost and more trouble probably lies ahead for your relationship.

Almost all teens experiment or do dumb things. Their brains are wired for risk and social gain. The best tool for helping them stay on track, or correct their course, is to stay connected to them by taking time to check in and stay abreast of their world (which includes inquiring about delicate subjects). Above all, kids want to be known and understood — and when they’re not, a hole forms in their heart which they try to fill with other things. —Lauren

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