Opinion: We need to rethink Halloween costumes – they affect our children

Opinion: We need to rethink Halloween costumes – they affect our children
It baffles me why we encourage the next generation to become immune to, and even celebrate, violence

When I was growing up in America, Halloween was a chance for creative juices to flow when it came to inventing and assembling costumes. We could dress up as anything – a cartoon character, an astronaut, a crayon, our favourite superhero, or any other person, place, or thing we felt inclined to represent. While new, specially made outfits could be purchased, many families saw the holiday as a challenge to use what was already in their closets and repurpose old items of clothing and accessories to enhance their chosen costume.

You may be able to imagine my shock when I relocated to the UK ten years ago and walked down the Halloween aisle at our local supermarket for the first time. Lining each bit of the shelves and hooks were blood ridden, scary costumes, masks, and decorations. But the cultural differences around Halloween didn’t really hit home until I had my own children.

For the first few years, I was able to divert them away from the gore and dress them as Buzz Lightyear, Batman, and a pumpkin. They were scared when a zombie ballerina or bloodied clown knocked on our door for candy, not sure how to respond to the frightening sight in front of them. However, as they have aged, particularly my eldest, they naturally want to fit into their peer groups who relish in scary, often quite violent costumes – which are likely to be thrown into landfills after their use. As a parent who wants to protect my children from violence, fear, and unnecessary waste, I think it’s time we rethink how we do Halloween costumes in the UK.

In an increasingly violent society, it baffles me why we encourage the next generation to become immune to, and even celebrate, violence. Halloween has become known as one of the busiest times of the year for emergency services and while that isn’t linked to young children, it is an indication of the behaviour that takes place on this one night of the year. There are endless possibilities of costume ideas that don’t promote death and gore, but they aren’t always culturally acceptable among the friendship groups children have in schools and neighbourhoods – leaving them feeling like the “odd one out”.

While I have chosen not to let my kids wear scary or gory costumes, others do, and while that is their personal choice – it affects my kids. Imagine my little five-year-old hearing a knock and eagerly opening the door on a dark Halloween night, feeling frightened when he finds a football player with blood dripping down his face and body. That’s an image that will haunt his dreams and reality. In every other aspect of life, we aim to protect our young children from violence to keep their fragile minds and emotions safe. Why is that Halloween should be any different?

Finally, when I started looking at the massive amount of plastic waste generated by Halloween consumption, it made me want to teach my kids why buying new Halloween costumes every year contributes to the demise of our planet. It was estimated by Hubbub in 2019 that 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste – equivalent to 83m bottles – was produced from throwaway Halloween clothing sold by retailers in the UK.

The same research found 30 million people in the UK dress up for Halloween and upwards of 90 per cent of families consider buying new costumes. Every year, seven million outfits are thrown away, with only a few being recycled. Retailers have a lot to answer for, as 83 per cent of the materials used are made of polluting oil-based plastic, but consumers can take action to change the status quo by choosing not to buy new, plastic costumes and instead, opt for buying from charity shops or re-using materials at home to make costumes. I want to encourage my kids to love their planet by doing what they can to produce less waste – avoiding new Halloween costumes is a tangible way to do just that.

This year, instead of giving in to requests to buy and wear the typical Halloween costume, we visited charity shops and found pre-loved skeleton costumes that we will reuse or return to the charity shop. They weren’t scary, violent, or new, and my kids loved them. In future years, I hope they decide for themselves to do Halloween costumes responsibly. This is a creative time of the year when we can actively think outside the box and create fun, unique costumes that celebrate the holiday without any harm to children or the environment.

コメントを残す

メールアドレスが公開されることはありません。 * が付いている欄は必須項目です