Our witch is black. Our monsters are queer. Our skeletons are gender neutral. Here's why.

September 15, 2018 3 Comments

Our witch is black. Our monsters are queer. Our skeletons are gender neutral. Here's why.

Halloween is just around the corner, and we’re stoked for candy corn, trick or treating, and parties. But not for the stereotypes.

We could rant forever about boys being forbidden to dress as princesses, or girls told that Marvel Superheroes are “just for boys.” About kids not allowed to pick their own costumes, about kids being told their choices have to match some outdated societal notion of gender expectations. But there’s some more subtle stuff at work here on Halloween. Some more insidious stuff.

Stuff we want to help change, one shirt at a time.

Free to Be Kids Halloween Outfits ( Shop Now > )

First, there’s the subtle racism. Ever notice how every costume (that isn’t from Black Panther) defaults to whiteness? We didn’t think about it nearly enough until we designed a shirt with a cool, empowered witch on it, featuring the slogan “Make Your Own Magic.” The first draft featured a typically Caucasian, presumably blond witch -- until a friend asked if we would ever consider giving her an afro instead. It would be so cool, she said, for her daughter to see herself in a shirt like this for once.

Like everything on Halloween, and everything most of the time, we’d defaulted to whiteness without thinking. But kids of color deserve to see themselves represented. We want to be their ally in that fight for more visibility, more representation, more chances to see themselves in a positive light. So the sleek blond hair went out the window, replaced with a fierce headful of natural curls.

Make Your Own Magic Kids' Halloween Shirt ( Shop Now > )

There has been backlash over our black witch. Just this week an Instagram commenter told us that the final design was even more exclusive than the first draft, claiming that even more kids would now be left out. To that I simply say: my white daughter and white son are delighted to wear this shirt, and they don't feel left out in the least. We can all celebrate #blackgirlmagic, just like black kids have always been able to rock superhero costumes traditionally associated with white movie stars, and my blonde daughter can be Black Panther for Halloween (which is, indeed, her plan).

Make Your Own Magic Kids' Halloween Shirt ( Shop Now > )

And then there’s the presumed heteronormality in Halloween. Girls dress as princesses. Boys dress as superheros who save the princesses, right? There’s a very subtle idea that everyone’s on the straight and narrow. Well, we released this shirt last year and kept it a little stealthy and subversive, but our monsters tell us that this year they’re ready to share with the world: when they hold hands and say, “I think I love you,” they’re talking about what used to be called “the love that dare not speak its name.” That’s right, this year, we’re saying it loud and proud: Our monsters are here, they’re queer, and we’re super excited to feature a design that includes love outside of the hetero norm.

I Think I Love You Kids' Halloween Shirt ( Shop Now > )

Why gay monsters (or non-binary monsters, or anything other than straight boy/girl monsters)? Well, why on earth not? Lots of people are queer. It stands to reason, then, that some monsters would be queer too.

Silliness aside, we want the queer community -- both parents and kids -- to see themselves represented as part of Halloween. Inclusiveness means not automatically defaulting to the heteronormative idea of of what kinds of people might get crushes on each other. It includes gay and non-binary kids and families with gay and non-binary parents. It includes people who just want their kids to see something other than the typical girl-and-boy love story. Love stories can star two boys  -- or two girls -- or two non-binary or gender non-conforming people. Because gender isn't what matters; love is what matters. Love is love is love, and kids needs to see that. We need to remember that. And why not on Halloween?

I Think I Love You Kids' Halloween Shirt ( Shop Now > )

We've had backlash on this one too. Certain standard complaints come along with presenting anything that acknowledges non-heterosexual love, like "you're sexualizing kids" and "kids shouldn't be thinking about sexuality of any kind at this age!"

Hey, angry people, we're not talking about sex - you are. There's no sex pictured on this shirt. It shows a couple cute little beings reaching for one another's hands and feeling crushy. And you know what? Many kids get their first crushes between preschool and the early elementary years, making this design entirely relatable and age-appropriate. 

As our lovely community member Cass said on Facebook in response to one of these angry comments, "All it means is it's one image that doesn't look like Prince Charming + Princess, which is eeeeverywhere in children's stuff. Love can look all kinds of ways, which is a good message for kids of all ages." 

Here, Cass, let us drop that mic for you.

I Think I Love You Kids' Halloween Shirt ( Shop Now > )

Then there’s the whole thing with black skeleton shirts for boys, and dancing pink skeletons for girls. With bows on. What skeletons wear hair bows? They generally don’t have hair, and the kind that do -- well, they aren’t the kind you stick on a little girls’ shirt. They are pink, they are dancing, and they are nine-tenths of the Halloween offerings for your little rocker. She wants a special shirt for Halloween, she needs to wear pink dancing skeletons or a generic pumpkin.

Party Like It's Candy Day Kids' Halloween Shirt ( Shop Now > )

We wanted a gender-neutral shirt with the same spirit of fun, so we designed Party Like It’s Candy Day, which features dancing skeletons (sans hairbows). The boys don’t have to stick to black, and the girls don’t have to stick to pink or purple. Everyone gets the same, and everyone picks their favorite color, regardless of gender. Everyone wins!

Party Like It's Candy Day Kids' Halloween Shirt ( Shop Now > )

So party like it’s candy day. Make your own magic with our witch, who just happens to be a witch of color. And show the love with some cute crushy little monsters who just might not necessarily be a boy and a girl. Because we want a Halloween full of all the people we love, and that includes people who aren’t white, people who aren’t straight, girls who want to wear black, boys who want to wear pink, and kids who don’t want to be forced to pick between the two.

Free to Be Kids Halloween Outfits ( Shop Now > )

Halloween is for everyone to laugh and love and say boo and snarf candy. We shouldn’t have to put our identities on the shelf when we do it. And we all deserve more options than what the mainstream serves up.

SEE SOMETHING YOU LIKE?

Every design shown in this article is available at www.freetobekids.com in baby through grownup sizes. Just click on any of the pictures or links to see all the options!

NEW TO FREE TO BE KIDS

We design and create baby, kids, and even a few grownup clothes with positive messages and nary a gender cliche in sight. We believe clothes send a message, and our mission is to flip the script on gender cliches and spread positive messages one fashion statement at a time.

 



3 Responses

Drea
Drea

September 18, 2018

Here’s a challenge:
Would you design a male Witch? Believe it or not most of the witches I know tend to present as men and are LJBQTIA and it’s fabulous. But we all look regular people most of the time. Yes there are wizard costumes, but a Wizard is not a Witch is not a Magician. Ok except when they’ve chosen to be. I always that my daughter would be into the moon and all that but it’s my son who wants to be a non Hogwarts witch and I realize that I don’t have anything particular in mind! I mean, spiritually we are pagan so Samhain is important to us, but we don’t mind the commercialized Halloween stuff. As long as we’re not depicting witches as anything harmful like a poisoned apple, we don’t mind wearing our Witch hats In a non ceremonial setting.

But to be honest, when I googled it, lots of stuff came up that was inappropriate for a young boy or a Gandalf style costume which we don’t want. A pointed hat (he says it must have a buckle- I dunno why- maybe he meant some kind of broach or symbol on the front?) and a make your magic t-shirt for the underrepresented boy witch might be fun. With Black pants and a long coat, I might be just the thing.

:) just a suggestion maybe for next year. Whatever race or ethnicity you choose.

danielle Jelks
danielle Jelks

September 16, 2018

Love your great designs! So awesome!

Patricia Reid
Patricia Reid

September 16, 2018

These are just great!!! Thanks for designing these! People who are freaking out and mad? Just forget them!!!

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