Kids In Horror Costumes: How Old Is Old Enough?

Halloween is coming up soon, and people are already ready for the season of spookiness! People are buying candy, costumes, pumpkins, and decorations, all to indulge in the one day a year where you can be anyone you want to be and no one will think you’re a weirdo. Unfortunately, this year there has a bit of controversy surrounding one of the most popular photos circling the web right now, the little boy in the Pennywise costume. What’s the big deal, you say?

Photo by: Eagan Tilghman

Some people are claiming that the little boy, 3-year-old Louie Tilghman, was forced into dressing like Pennywise the Dancing Clown against his will. The fact that Louie’s teenage brother, Eagan, was the one to dress the boy up has only fueled their fiery cries of abuse. In the comments in one such Facebook post, I tried to speak in defense of the family, who have shared a live video of the whole makeup process that proves that boy wasn’t forced to do anything. Unfortunately, I let my emotions get the best of me, which prevented me from providing valid argument points.

Photo by: Locked Illusions Photographic Artistry

Of course, I also wasn’t provided any valid argument points about why they thought he was being abused. I can’t help but think that one of the reasons is because the boy was dressed in a horror costume. I bet that if Louie was dressed as a Pokemon character or even Jon Snow from Game of Thrones, no one would’ve cried “abuse.” I’ve seen tons of kids of all ages dressed as famous horror icons for Halloween. I’ve even seen a little baby eating a brain-shaped cake like a zombie! These kinds of costumes seem to anger people, especially those not too familiar with the genre. Tell me, how does this compare to the stuff people do to dress their toddlers up for beauty pageants? But I digress.

This leads me to ask: how old does someone have to be for their horror costume to not be deemed “offensive”? 

I believe that, as long as the costume is not inappropriate in a sexualized way and it doesn’t terrify the wearer, then the kid should be able to dress up as anything they want to be, no matter how old they are. When I was looking at costumes at a random Party City, I saw little Harley Quinn outfits for kids. So dressing a kid up as the sexy Harley Quinn is okay, but letting them wear a clown costume and carry a red balloon is not? Where’s the outrage over this?

I wonder how many kids are actually going to remember what they dressed as when they grow up. I’m 21 now, and out of my entire childhood, I remember only three costumes I’ve ever worn. One was Ghostface. I don’t remember how old I was exactly, but I do remember loving the mask and wanting to wear it. It was way before I knew what Scream or Ghostface was. My parents didn’t get flack for it then, so I don’t believe parents should get flack for it now.

As long as your child wants to dress in the costume you help them pick out, let them have fun with it and be creative! Who knows, they might grow up to be horror fans and have a blast talking about their past horror escapades. I know today’s horror fans do. I have a feeling little Louie is going to look back on how he and his family became famous, and wish he remembered the experience.

And to those who see a child in a horror costume this Halloween, unless you actually see their parents abusing them and forcing them to wear that costume, don’t just assume they’re horrible parents. Let children enjoy their Halloween!

About Karli Lawson

I basically grew up watching horror films and spooky things. I watched my first horror film when I was 4 years old. I've wanted to be a writer ever since I've read Stephen King books in middle school. I love writing and talking about my favorite genre. I hope to one day be successful in screenwriting and filmmaking. Everything horror, of course!

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