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Emma Hamilton-Clark

6 ways to champion girls’ empowerment and break gender stereotypes this Halloween

Emma Hamilton-Clark

Halloween is a time to let our imaginations run free and become anything we want to be – even if it’s just for one day! But if we take a closer look, the types of costumes geared towards girls and boys can make those dreams somewhat limiting.

What are the typical boy costumes? They are often characters that are violent and exaggeratedly masculine such as ninjas, superheroes and knights. On the other hand, the majority of girl costumes, such as princesses, fairies and cats, are stereotypically feminine – passive, cute and dainty. Even when we see female versions of traditionally male costumes, like police officers and pirates, the costumes for girls and women are often sexualized.

Fun though Halloween may be, it’s spooky that we find ourselves surrounded by costumes that perpetuate negative gender stereotypes. The costumes geared towards girls versus boys are an unfortunate reminder of the discrimination that still exists towards girls and women. This Halloween we challenge you to stand up for girls’ empowerment and bust gender stereotypes with your costume. Check out these 6 tips to spark your creativity!

1. Dress up as a positive female role model!

This year, dress up as someone you admire – like your favourite female athlete! How about Penny Oleksiak, the 16-year-old swimmer who set the record for the most medals won by a Canadian athlete at a single summer Olympic Game! If you want to dress up as this strong female role model, just grab your best Team Canada gear, a swimming cap and a medal (or four).

2. Make a statement with your costume

Do you support equal pay for men and women? Let everyone know by dressing up as the ‘gender wage gap’.

3. Be an empowering cartoon character!

Animated characters are always popular costume choices, so why not pick one that’s defying gender stereotypes! This year’s empowering cartoon character is Judy Hopps, the rabbit who broke through barriers to prove that no matter her size or gender, she could become what she always dreamed to be: a police officer in Zootopia.

A photo posted by Erika Gaitan (@erika_gaitanj) on

4. Get pun-ny

Play-on-word costumes can be a great conversation starter! If you’ve left your costume to the last minute, dressing up as a bread winner is easy and will get people talking about gender equality! Who says there has to be one bread winner bringing home the dough?

5. Dress up as your ‘dream job’

Have you ever noticed that the majority of career-oriented costumes, like police officers, astronauts and surgeons, are marketed to boys? 7-year-old Shaelyn Adams sure did and wrote a letter to Party City to call out this discrimination!

“I wanted a career costume, but there weren’t many choices for girls,” shared Shaelyn in her open letter. So, she took a stand and wore the so-called “boy costumes”, and we encourage you to do the same!

Costumes that objectify girls and women or place them in disempowering roles are a reflection on the persistent gender stereotypes that keep girls and women from being represented as true equals. As we work to close gender gaps in the workforce, let’s start by closing the gender gaps in costumes!

Dear Party City,
My name is Shaelyn and I am 7 years old. I was in your store looking for a costume when I noticed…

Posted by Shawna Beck Adams on Wednesday, October 14, 2015

6. Merge your favourite characters!

Be your favourite superhero (or villain) and princess all at the same time! Who says you have to be one or the other? These girls wanted to be Queen Elsa, who’s already a pretty empowering character on her own, but they also wanted to portray their favourite Star Wars characters. It’s inspiring to see their parents support their daughters by making a “Lord Queen Elsa Vader” and a “Jedi Elsa” costume.

Do you have any tips to share? Tell us in the comments below!

SEE ALSO: Trick or treat! 7 empowering DIY Halloween costumes

Featured image: jennifer wu via Flickr / CC BY 2.0