Thursday, December 12, 2013
Morning Sentinel Staff
Fortunately for time-crunched parents faced with the limited commercial offerings, the Maine-based advocacy group Hardy Girls Healthy Women has a host of Halloween ideas that allow girls to join in the good times without buying into cultural limits about who they can or should be.
Television, video games, teen-focused magazines, music videos and lyrics, movies and other forms of media tell girls that maintaining an attractive physical appearance is -- or should be -- their top priority. And this often plays out to the detriment of girls' physical and mental health: According to a 2007 American Psychological Association study, girls who channel more of their energy into what they look like are more likely than their peers to experience depression, low self-esteem, eating disorders and low grades.
Leaders at Hardy Girls Healthy Women are familiar with this research, and to spread a different message, they've pushed back against the stereotypical garb with an event that turns a lesson into a laugh.
Hardy Girls' Freaky 5K Fun Run in Waterville recently drew around 200 people. Among them were a cutlass-equipped woman pirate and a mother-daughter pair dressed, respectively, as a "Dr. Who" character and an elephant.
At this point, other parents may be throwing their hands in the air and saying, "She asked for a princess outfit!" or "I barely have five minutes to stop at the drugstore -- whatever's there is what she's going to wear."
There's no reason why a stereotypical costume can't work, Hardy Girls suggests. With a tinfoil-and-cardboard sheath and sword, a princess can defend her kingdom against a dragon. It just takes a little creative thinking.
In school and at home, we no longer tell girls that only boys get to be firefighters or athletes. We encourage them to weigh all the possibilities for their lives and use their imagination to dream up new ones.
There's no reason they can't do the same -- while still having fun -- on Halloween.