"Critics of ‘Naughy Leopard’ costume use spotty logic"
September 27th, 2013
The Kansas City Star
Once again, adults have brought their jaded minds to the kids aisles. This “Naughty Leopard” toddler Halloween costume that everyone is clawing Wal-Mart about is less trick and more treat.
In reality, it’s nothing more than a Disney princess dress done up in black and fuchsia with a cat-eared headband. So what’s so controversial?
One word: naughty. For adults, that word means sexy. And once an image of the costume hit the Consumerist website, it went viral. By Thursday, Wal-Mart pulled the outfit and apologized.
Why? Because critics say the adjective “naughty” hypersexualizes little girls. They try to link it to the growing number of sleazy adult costumes.
As Shawnee mom Kelly Shea notes, how will these overwrought parents react when Santa asks if their kids have been naughty or nice?
Whatever happened to naughty meaning mischievous? Let’s be honest, part of Halloween’s fun is the chance to be the bad guy.
For every Dora, Minion and Captain America, you see vampires, witches and ninjas. Even Hello Kitty has a punk counterpart, albeit a cute counterpart.
“Even the Charlie Brown special has scary costumes,” says Kelly, 33.
My friend Nick, a Northland father, says people are looking for a scapegoat.
“It’s common knowledge that so many adult costumes are super-scandalous and also use the word naughty to describe them,” he says. “That being said, people love to find a reason to get worked up and say, ‘this is the reason our society is going down the tubes.’ Kids hearing their parents complain all the time is likely more damaging than anything a marketing executive could ever accomplish.”
In a very rare moment, I am siding with Wal-Mart. I don’t believe the intent was to deliver a sexy costume for toddlers. I do believe society has a problem with the hypersexualization of little girls — the toddler pageants, the tween supermodels hawking adult brands, the push-up bra bikinis. And that’s where the outrage should be directed.
“I’ve seen dance recital costumes that are more revealing and more suggestive than the leopard,” says Erin Gregory, 32, a Lee’s Summit mom. “My beef is more with tiny stripper costumes couched as dance recital costumes or dance competition attire.”
Erin’s daughter, 2-year-old Darby, is dressing up as a pirate this Halloween. And, Erin admits, the word “naughty” on that Wal-Mart costume did give her pause. Then again, she also sometimes calls her daughter “a naughty little monkey.” Context is important.
When you really think about it, this naughty leopard didn’t deserve a cat fight.