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Child "Pimp and Ho" Costumes Cross Line

Week of August 30, 2004


            I don’t care for Halloween and like it less each year.  Not everyone agrees; Time magazine estimated that spending on the “holiday” would total $6.9 billion in 2003, second only to Christmas.  Yet the more commercial it gets the tackier it becomes, and, I’ll say it, the more evil.

            Take the example of Brands On Sale, an Internet retailer based near Los Angeles.  I have no idea how Brands On Sale makes its merchandising decisions but in my mind’s eye I can picture a group of marketing geeks huddled in a smoke-filled room, looking ahead to Halloween and wrangling over how to wring out a few extra bucks.

            “Alright, think!” barks a greasy character.  “Witches and ghosts have been done to death.  Axes through the head, dangling eyeballs, and fake blood and are all good fun, but we need something progressive, something edgy.  We need …”

            “Four-year-old hookers!” a voice shouts.  And thus, as I imagine it, were “Child Pimp & Ho Costumes” conceived.

            Yes, you too can deck your child out as a pimp or “ho,” or whore in the vulgar slang of the day.  Age is no obstacle; Brands On Sale has Halloween costumes for your little pimp or ho as young as age 4.

            The pimp costumes come in four styles:  regular child pimp, child pimp daddy, child zebra pimp suit, and child cheetah pimp suit.  Most come in several colors, with hats that cost extra for some pimps and come with the suit for others.  Hos have only one choice, which is apparently pretty popular; the website notes “Due to overwhelming demand, our child ho costume is currently sold out.”  Have no fear; they promise to deliver your ho getup by Halloween.

            The cynic in me wonders if there’s only one ho option because of the number of teen and pre-teen girls who can simply duck into their closets and come out looking the part, but the costumes are for toddlers too.  

            When my children, now in their late teens, were younger, we did let then participate in Halloween.  This was primarily through chaperoned age-appropriate parties, though we also took them trick-or-treating to neighbors we knew and family.  The costumes were generally of the animal or princess variety, and although more objectionable outfits were available I don’t recall being asked for them.  By the time I had come to seriously dislike Halloween their dress-up days were largely over.  Still, if either of them one day presents my grandchild dressed as a pimp or ho, someone’s coming out of my will and it won’t be the grandchild, who would probably need whatever meager sum I leave behind for therapy.

            I have no idea what might be running through the skull of a parent who would buy these abominations, except maybe white noise.  Society has unquestionably become coarser; I have written before that our culture hates children, or at least childhood.  If dressing 4-year-olds like pimps and hookers doesn’t prove it I don’t know what will, but it is a parent’s job to say no to this kind of sludge.  I know from experience how difficult it is to fight peer pressure in a child’s life, but those who aren’t up to it probably should not reproduce.

            Besides, precious few 4-year-olds are going to the Brands On Sale website, whipping out a credit card, and buying these costumes.  I’d wager they’re not asking for them either.  If you could be a fly on the wall at a Brands On Sale marketing meeting, you’d probably find that the main target for “Child Pimp & Ho Costumes” is misguided parents with a twisted idea of what is cute. 






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© 2004 Brent Morrison