Christina Wolfgram
September 27, 2015 9:05 am

When Lin Kramer went on Party City’s website to look at costumes for her three-year-old daughter, she was appalled at the differences between “boys” costumes and “girls” costumes. Fired up, she wrote an open letter explaining her concern and posted it on Party City’s Facebook page.

She points out that there are 53 costume options for boy and 16 of them are “occupations,” like fireman, soldier, construction worker, doctor, sea captain, etc. For girls, there are only three career costumes for girls out of 45 options. Lin specifies that when finding these numbers, she counted “cowgirl” as a job, even though the model pictured on the Party City site, “is clearly not appropriately dressed to be employed on any sort of working ranch.” She also includes “cheerleader” as a career, though she notes that it’s a widely known fact that even NFL cheerleaders aren’t paid enough to live on a cheerleader salary.

Lin focuses on comparing the boy and girl versions of the “police officer” costume. The boys’ option looks like a shrunken, real life police officer uniform, while the girls’ comes with a short skirt that would never be worn on the force. Lin acknowledges that Halloween costumes are obviously made for fun and to spark kids’ imaginations, but that doesn’t mean Party City shouldn’t give girls the option to dress as a realistic police officer. “Toddler girls are not imagining and hoping that they will grow up to become a ‘sexy cop’ — which is clearly what your girl costume suggests,” Lin writes, “rather, young girls, just as young boys, see and admire their family members and neighbors offering service to their communities and delight in the idea of doing the same.”

The letter poses a solution to this gender problem: Lin believes that Party City should offer “boy” costumes in the “girls’” department. She ends her missive with the following:

Party City removed Lin’s letter off its Facebook page and blocked her from being able to comment. She’s since reposted the letter on her personal profile. Meanwhile, Party City issued a statement, saying that though the “Girl Cop” costume is one of the company’s best-sellers, Party City is “always evaluating” customers’ shopping experiences, hoping to be “fun” and “welcoming.” The statement also invited Lin to contact members of the Party City team in person to discuss her concerns and suggestions. Sounds like the company only wants positive comments showing up on its Facebook wall.

Lin told Huffington Post that she’s happy her message is being shared. “I hope, by reading my letter, others will be encouraged to pause and critically think about what they are seeing — and accepting — from retailers,” she said. “When there is a difference between a ‘girls’ item and a ‘boys’ item, I hope that people will think critically and ask whether there really needs to be, or should be, a difference between the two items.”

Read the full letter below.

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(Images via Party City, here, here, and here.)

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