Updated: Jan 18, 2019
Halloween is one of those holidays that I have a big issue with. On the one hand, there's a ton of inappropriate cultural appropriation, there's the fetishization of women in basically every arena (sexy cop, sexy teacher, sexy fictional character, sexy HANDMAID?!), there's that way awful figure of the past are made into idols of a sort (Nazi father and son combo, ehem . . .), and there's that whole gender norm thing and the social pressures that some kids feel to conform to those norms. Ugh.
On the other hand - the hippie hand - there's the fact that most costumes are made with plastic and synthetic petroleum based fabrics which end up floating out of your washing machine, out the storm drains, and then into arctic ice. (Keep your eye out for my environmental law paper on plastic pollution coming out soon!) There's also the fact that candy is totally unhealthy and what's worse is the sheer amount of completely unnecessary plastic wrappers that can't be recycled and also end up polluting our oceans literally for the rest of eternity. There's also the plastic buckets used to collect candy (just don't), the sparkles and glitter that are really gross for the planet, and makeup that is going to be horribly toxic unless you spend a lot for it. (Find great glitter here.)
I really don't like halloween, although I do love scary movies and all things spooky. Can't we do halloween better?
If it wasn't for the fact that Halloween is on a school day and Lily's Kindergarten is doing a "parade" in their costumes, we wouldn't be taking part at all. However, there's a balance that every parent has to strike and this costume was a big, beautiful, successful compromise.
Instead of a fictional princess, we went with a real princess, Gloria Steinem, who spoke her truths and helped to lead a revolution for women's rights. She also has a host of amazing quotes, including one of my favorites: "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."
Think about that, though. She's brilliant!
After we settled on an iconic, historical figure who fought for equality, we also had to make sure that the costume was one with a minimal impact on the planet. We went to Etsy and Poshmark to find vintage pieces and we made out like bandits! The pants are amazing, I want a pair! They're cropped, flared, and have a little embroidery on the back pocket: they're Garanimals right out of the 70's. The turtleneck is vivid, vintage and used, and we found two pairs of kids glasses that she could wear (I thought one wouldn't come in time so I got the second also). We found the pins from Etsy from a variety of artists. I'm guessing that the plastic cover on the pin isn't recyclable, but the paper and the metal is, and we plan on using these for decades, so we won't be recycling them for a while, and maybe that plastic will be able to be used again by then. Some of the pins were ones we already had lying around (we like pins that make a statement). Zoom in and read those puppies, they're so fun!
The boots were our biggest problem. I couldn't find vintage shoes and none that we had lying around would work. Lily needed some boots anyway, so I looked to buy a pair new. Typically I would try to find a shoe that's made responsibly, like from Toms, or made with natural materials and minimal plastic. Unfortunately, kids shoes don't have a whole lot of sustainable options like adults! I couldn't find anything, but I ran into these block heel boots from Old Navy and I got them. Now, listen, these are not green boots - they're made with velvet that I bet is all synthetic, the whole rest of the shoe is probably plastic, and it has glitter on the heel! Ugh, Old Navy, you DON'T need glitter on the heel to make a cute boot. Even with all of this, I bought the boots. No one can be perfectly zero-waste all the time, and it's a jerk move to pretend to be perfect and shame others. I did my best to do Halloween a better way, but I still failed in the shoe department. One of the things that a family or individual has to remember when trying to change their habits and preferences for the better is that you WILL fail sometimes, you will buy Old Navy boots with glitter heels when they aren't really needed. But, you know what? As long as you're trying your best whenever possible, you're gong to love those boots and wear them until they fall apart, and then properly disassemble, recycle, and dispose of them, then you will be ok and you can keep living life without being weighed down with guilt. Lily LOVES those boots, so if that's the trade off for a lifetime of refusing unnecessary candy wrappers and synthetic disposable costumes, then I think the net good is worth it.
Check out the images and lay your eyes on a hilarious little girl who really cares about being a good human. Gather some inspiration for cool costumes moving forward, and please take away some information that will help you think twice about costume choices the next time October rolls around. Happy spooky day, peeps!
Shop the Suppliers
Vintage Shirt: @lishylooetsy
Vintage Pants: @radvintagekids
Feminist Icon Pin: @thefilmartistshop
Sassy Pins: @treelabel
Persist Pin: @femfetti