News / Vancouver

Value Village pulls 'sexy' Halloween kids costumes

Value Village will be pulling some children’s Halloween costumes from store shelves after a parent complained the outfits were too sexy for kids.

The U.S.-based thrift store giant announced the move Monday afterVictoria mom Raina Delisle wrote an online column, which sparked outrage on social media, about arecent experience at her local Value Villageshopping for a firefighter costume for her four-year-old daughter.

Delisle said she was appalled bythe costume she found.

 A comparison of the boys and girls police and firefighter costumes that Victoria mom Raina Delisle found at Value Village.

A comparison of the boys and girls police and firefighter costumes that Victoria mom Raina Delisle found at Value Village.

“The girls’ costume was skin tight, shiny black fabric and was paired with a fascinator instead of a helmet,” shetold Metro. “It didn't even look like the real thing."

In contrast, Delisle said the boys’ firefighter costume was more realistic with a bright red jacket, yellow reflectors and a firefighter helmet.

Delisle said she wasshe was shocked by the stark differencebetween the two costumes, as well as many other costumes in the store that were highly sexualized and marketed togirls as young as four.

“It’s telling young girls that their bodies are more important than their brains, and that they need to be sexy to be successful,” she said. “Boys and men could start to see them as objects and it feeds into the whole idea of objectifying women.”

As a longtime Value Village shopper, Delisle said she was disappointed to see the costumes in a store that promotes itself as a shopping destination for families.

While she believes parents have a role to play choosing costumes for their children, Delisle said she believes the store also has a corporate responsibility.

"It's sick," she said. "These are not just costumes. This is a problem with society."

Diane Sowden, executive director of Children of the Street Society, a non-profit charitydedicated to preventing the sexual exploitation and human trafficking of children, said skimpy Halloween costumes are becoming increasingly common for young children, which is worrying.

“It makes light of the issue of sexual exploitation of children and youth,” she said. “We all know sex sells, but not on the backs of our children and our youth.”

Sowden encouraged parents to use the costumes as an educational opportunity to talk to their children about why the outfits are inappropriate.

University of B.C. education professor Mona Gleason, whose research interests include children and youth gender studies, said consumers have a duty to speak out when products clash with societal values.

“The marketplace is often just exploiting the lowest, common denominator,” she said. “We need to ensure that as a culture and a society, we need to not make the mistake of allowing businesses to be our moral compass or our ethical compass.”

On Monday, Value Villagespokeswoman Sara Gaugl said the companyselects its Halloween inventory based on feedback and demand from shoppers, but that it would be removing the costumes in question from its stores.

“We’ve taken the recent comments surrounding certain Halloween costumes sold in our stores very seriously, and as such, are removing this merchandise from our sales floors,” Gaugl wrote in an email. “We apologize to those who were offended and as we move forward, we will evaluate all costumes and packaging keeping this specific customer feedback in mind.”

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