Learning to See Her

Halloween Costumes for your kids, should gender matter?

Halloween is the perfect time to think about, talk about, and most importantly, celebrate gender expression; don’t you think? But, it can also be a hard time for you, your family and your kids; although, it doesn’t have to be.

I can see my oldest girl in my mind’s eye when she was about 8 or 9. Her height reached about to my waist; her chin length golden, red-brown hair looked adorable. Oh, she would have made a pretty pink princess!

“What do you want to be for Halloween?” I broached.

Please say princess, I thought in my mind. Glitter around her eyes, I imagined, some cute pink lipstick with a tea length dress topped off with a scepter or purple wand with a star on top. Perfect, was the image I saw in my mind’s eye.

“A Furby,” she answered smiling so sweet.

“You wouldn’t rather be Belle or Sleeping Beauty?” I inquired.

“No way.”

Disappointed at first, I wondered to myself, “How am I going to make a Furby costume?”

We ended up buying one, and she look so sweet and cute. But, I sure had wanted to dress her up as a princess since the day she was born. She wasn’t having any part of that. The closest I came to my dream of dressing her up like a princess was when she let me make her a Pocahontas costume from her favorite Disney movie when she was about 3. Oh, she looked so sweet. Of course, I always thought she looked amazing no matter what we made for Halloween.

In a few years, she loved The Legend of Zelda, a Nintendo game featuring Zelda and Link. Who did she want to be, the pretty girl or the action adventure oriented, Link? Of course, she wanted to be Link. He did look cool with his jeweled sword, shield, and long bow. I thought, she would have looked precious as Zelda; however, I supported her. We went all out!

We made the whole costume practically from scratch. We downloaded patterns to make his shield and a scabbard for his sword we had purchased at Party City. For the shield, we drew carefully cut pieces of colored foam board and mounted them together on poster board we cut in the shape of a shield. I mounted a handle on the inside with hot glue, so she could really hold it up to spar. To make the sword handle the right colors, we painted it using craft paint. The scabbard we made from cardboard put together with hot glue. When it cooled, we painted it blue, yellow, and purple to match our Legend of Zelda theme. It always interested me how the game was called The Legend of Zelda, but the only option in game was to play as Link. “Why not Zelda?” I thought. Anyway—

For Link’s wardrobe we bought an off-white turtle neck and leggings. I cut a 2-inch slit in the front of the turtle neck to the point where it rested on the collar bone. After cutting little holes for eyelets, I resewed it using a leather shoe string in a crisscross pattern. I made a green tunic similar to what Peter Pan would wear and hat to match Link’s signature style. We bought black finger-less gloves that served as archery bracers. We finished the look with simple brown belts and boots. She looked amazing. This was probably the best costume we ever made. What made it so fun as well was—we made it together!

My youngest liked it so much, she wanted one just like it to match, except, she wanted to wear long orange hair underneath the hat. Who knows where this idea came from?! I didn’t dress her as elaborate as her sister, but I did make her a little costume to match. She was beyond elated to go Trick or Treating with her older sister as “twins.” At the time, I called my youngest he. A few years later she would transition to female to alleviate her gender dysphoria.

The year before, I had dressed her as superman and threw her a spider man birthday party; she hated both. The year after she dressed as Link, she wanted to be a kitty cat and carried her Bratz doll along with her to Trick or Treat. I went with it; why not? She was happy.

Over the years, my youngest picked lots of costumes that could be deemed for girls. One was a spooky spirit that we made up on the fly. I pulled out her older sister’s old ghost costume and attached light blue streamers. We spray colored her hair gray and she wore tights underneath. She loved it! She also picked to be a witch on a few occasions complete with the pointy hat. Next, she chose Fi from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Fi is a fairy spirit residing within the Goddess Sword with light blue skin. She wears a purple dress, black tights, and a cape that looks like wings when she dances. It was a challenge, but my little girl looked precious and she was so happy!

Her Daddy hated the costumes we chose and wanted her to definitely be Batman or GI Joe. It did seem somewhat extreme to me since I saw her as male then, but she was happy. For me, I had to help her and encourage her to express herself by allowing her to explore and dress like she wanted, just like I supported and helped her older sister, when at times, I wanted her to dress like a princess when she wanted to dress like characters typically reserved for boys. So, the best thing I could do was to not only go along with their choices, but to be excited with them and to make the best costumes we could—together. We did, and I will never regret it!

What should your kids wear for Halloween? The answer is: whatever they want—make it happen! They will remember it forever!! And, you’ll be their hero and champion as you should be! Happy Halloween!

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