This is L. L is kind, funny, and charming, with a bit of an attitude that is hard not to find amusing (at least to those who are not his parents). He likes trains and boats and animals. This month he is embarking on a special London journey with his parents because he loves the royal guards, the Tower of London, double-decker busses, and Peppa Pig. Two years ago, he chose to be a punk princess for Halloween. Frozen was all the rage and he, like 98% of children, loves Elsa and Anna.

You may think that kids could be whatever they want for Halloween. Is that not what a costume by definition is? You can be a hotdog if you want! Alas, it seems that even Halloween costumes are not immune to gender, racial, or religious debate.

I saw a Facebook post where a mother questioned whether to allow her white child to dress up as a black sports star. Thankfully, the majority of posts were supportive of this, while noting that no form of “black face” is acceptable, that a jersey, hat, bat, etc. is all that is needed. And while you may wonder why this mother would question her child’s choice, at least she is engaging in dialogue.

Kids on Halloween choose to dress up like those, fictional or not/person or thing, that they like, admire, or want to be. Boys can be dancers or princesses. Girls can be superheroes or presidents. After all, even Marvel comics superheroes are now women, black, and Muslim. The biggest challenge you should face when confronting your child’s choice of Halloween costume is the likelihood that their choice will change 5 times between now and Halloween.

And on a final note, please only comment positively on the costume choices of other children. If you see a boy dressed as a princess, do not say either to the boy or to his parents how wonderful it is that his parents let him dress as a princess. (Yes, this happened to L’s parents.) That is not encouraging respect, acceptance, and diversity. In such situations, rather use the opportunity to promote dialogue, to talk about differences of race, gender, religion, and interests.

Happy Halloween! Punky Princesses Unite!

Help me by adding to this post pictures of your child’s wild and wacky Halloween costumes.