How to dress as Cookie Monster, for girls and boys

Party City sells a "Girls' toddler Cookie Monster costume" and a "Boys' toddler Cookie Monster costume" -- there's a slight difference between the two, but I can't quite spot it. But I guess they're just filling the market created by parents who want their kids to look their best, right? And the parents are in no way pressured to buy their girls crazy, awful, second-rate Cookie-Monster-as-princess costumes by the word BOY emblazoned on the good one. I really hope that Children's Television Workshop pulls the license for these.

Girls’ toddler Cookie Monster costume vs. Boys’ toddler Cookie Monster costume. (via Sociological Images)


  1. I know what you’re getting at, but are you saying little girls don’t have the right to choose to wear a frilly dress if they want to? Or little boys, for that matter. They’re just providing the *option*. Right?

    1. The point you’re missing is that little boys are getting the message that — Yay! — they can be cookie monster for Halloween. But because sooooo many girls’ costumes some variation on pretty pretty princess, even Cookie Monster, FFS, girls are getting the message that they must be pretty. It’s not really okay for them to take a break from being forever pretty even on Halloween.

      1. I think there’s another dimension to it as well, which is that kids are extremely observant and see sex distinctions all over the place, so they start to have a sexual identity at an age when they can’t rationalize their way out of it (e.g., when they’re little, they can’t look at the catalog and see that the boy label makes no sense.) My own experience (one kid and her friends) is that most kids are smart and if you point out ridiculous things like the costume being labeled for boys, they catch on pretty fast.

        1. I agree. The problem is the sex distinctions our children are picking up on are so much more hard-line than they were a generation or two ago, and parents seem to be towing the line, oblivious to the messages they are sending their kids. To assume that your little girl always chooses to be pretty over anything else without noticing that her little brother enjoys so many more interests and choices available to him is to be willfully blind.

      1. They can still ignore the “boy” label and wear the correct costume, but there seems to be social pressure against that.

  2. The whole Regular-Costume-as-princess is pretty much the children’s version of Regular-Costume-as-sexy that adult females are subjected to. At least adults aren’t having someone else choose for them. Poor little kids.

      1. (O.O) Is there were the PETA activist tosses a bucket of red paint and screams, “FUR IS MURDER!”?

    1. Well… someone else chose for us a long time ago, and we’re so conditioned that we stay with that choice without even reflecting. I don’t know that this is better.

  3. And yet, the Boing Boing advertisment that is associated with this article is for a site for women to dress as “sexy orange tigers” “sexy black swans” or, my personal favorite “sexy tootsie rolls”.

    1. There’s also the Sexy Watermelon and the Sexy Banana.

      But that’s just an ad you’re being retargeted for after BB posted about the Sexy Hamburger costume.

  4. The injustice is that there is no corresponding cookie monster three-piece suit for the little boys. They’re stuck with this dorky one piece outfit, when they could be showing off their masculinity with a tasteful cookie themed tie and a fedora with googly eyes.

  5. I asked my three-year-old which picture was Cookie Monster, and she pointed to the one on the right. Then I asked which one she would want to wear, and she said “The dress!” We pretty much never put her in dresses until she starting having opinions about her clothing, and her opinion is DRESSES ALL THE TIME. If she wanted the other one, I would have no problem getting her something just because it said “Boys'” on the label. Hell, the girl wears Toy Story briefs because that is what she picked out when we were potty-training and took her to buy underwear. Yes, it’s silly to have a Cookie Monster costume that looks nothing like Cookie Monster, but I hope most parents can see through this.

    1. My daughter was and is consciously raised by me and her mother to not buy into gendered stereotypes. We didn’t decorate her nursery in a way that screamed one sex or another; we deliberately dressed her somewhat ambiguously as baby and as a toddler. She was always presented with trucks and dolls, pants and skirts, pinks and blues.

      The funny thing is kids always have their own opinions,and they don’t always reflect your preferences, or parental philosophy, but sometimes they do make plenty of sense. For example, my daughter absolutely refused to wear pants of any kind after she was potty trained. She is well into puberty now and still prefers them. Her mother and I tried to get her to wear pants because she was hanging upside down from the monkey bars half the time at preschool with predictable consequences she didn’t like (I see London…) and we had a general preference that she didn’t show everyone in the world her panties.Pants just seemed to fit her active life better, so we thought. We didn’t get any cooperation from her, in fact, she wanted to wear her favorite Grandma sewn pink gingham sundress with the built-in crinolines every stinking day.

      I think girls should have a right to pink and frilly if they want to, just not every day, and not with the panties on display, but that’s what she preferred. We could get her to wear other dresses but never pants. She’d cry every time we tried to get her to wear them. Now in case you think she bought into the whole Disney Princess bullcrap, I’ll have you know that she also preferred trucks and blocks to dolls, spending hours making “cities” in the family room floor. She could shinny up the swing set support poles all the way to the top at age 3 (scaring the preschool teachers to death) and she figured it out on her own  when none of the boys in her class could do it, and then she taught all the girls how (and not the boys, ‘coz girls are more better than boys, except you Daddy).

      Well, I said the preference for dresses made sense, and it did to me once I FINALLY got smart enough and  asked her why she didn’t want to wear pants and why was the pink dress her favorite. She told me: pants made going to the bathroom annoying – she thought dresses were quicker and simpler when she needed to pee; pants were too hot; and she like the pink dress because it twirled nicely and she liked twirling so much it would make me woozy to watch her. That seemed pretty fucking rational to me, so we got her some skirts with the built in shorts and we got her some stretch shorts to wear under other dresses that could serve as underwear without prompting “I see London, I see France…” Now everybody was happy, at least about wardrobe. Up to that point the wife and I figured we’d might have birthed some reactionary Republican child, not the Unitarian baby we had expected. Turns out she was smarter than both of us all along. She still is.

      1. This was my daughter too. She wore dresses long past when most girls went all pants. She also loved lots of things that are more masculine, which she just bent in her own logic to being a girl thing. I love that about here. Nowadays, she is a really confident teenage who is interested in science, in with the nerd crowd. 

        And she is back into wearing dresses as much as possible – but I will say, her dress choices are modest. I think there’s a difference between dressing in a feminine way and dressing in a hyper sexualized way.

  6. More and more it seems to me we have a generation of new parents who have no recollection of their innocent, relatively gender-neutral, unsexualized childhoods.

    1. This is the second time it’s been suggested in this thread that gender-segragation in childhood has been getting worse, and I can’t tell if folks are joking or if this is really thought to be true. Is there any evidence that there are more “boys” and “girls” things now than there were 20 or 30 years ago?

      I certainly remember the ’80s as being a time of Barbies and GI Joes. Pink trapper-keepers and blue trapper-keepers. I think tons of toys were aimed at girls or boys specifically.

      I think it’s sad that things haven’t changed much, but (a few gaffes like Girl Legos aside) I don’t see that it’s any worse.

      1. you honestly don’t see the sexualization of kids in our culture? particularly young girls? walk into any grade school (or, rather any that have not clamped down on clothing choices) and you will see girls wearing things that we would never have dreamed of even a generation ago.

        having done countless programs in grade schools and high schools, i’ve seen WAY more kid midriff and “wardrobe malfunction” boobage than should ever possibly exist. it’s disturbing.  these girls are flaunting sexuality WAY before they either a. understand sexuality, or b. know that they are doing so.  and the marketing of sexy clothing lines to kids is now pretty much culturally accepted.

        i mean, do we need kids’ lingerie stores?!?!

        this CBC piece does a pretty good job of talking about the current trends and the ramifications:

        1. maybe. but I can also walk into *anywhere* and see women (and men) wearing things nobody would have a couple decades ago.

          I don’t think this is a “kids only” thing, particularly. There are a hell of a lot more barely-conceled chests and crotches on all ages and sexes now than “before”.

        2. Is the “pink and blue-ification” and the reinforcement of gender stereotypes at an early(er) age the same phenomenon as the premature sexualization of tween and teen girls? I think both are bad and have some of the same driving forces (marketing is the primary offender), but I think they are distinct phenomenon.  A big issue is the age cohorts of the two problems now overlaps. To SamSam’s basic point about the rigidity of childhood gender roles in his experience in the 1980s, I’m a bit older, and I remember the same rigidity in the late ’60s through ’70s. The diff, from my perspective, is that you didn’t was so much gorram PINK everything and the emphasis on every girl being a princess.  Marketing found pink princesses sell, and I think the princess thing taps into some misguided attempt a reinforcing self-esteem and has become drug-like to many. I have seen adult women O.D. on pink, not just 4 year olds.

          I am convinced  much of what you are talking about comes from three sources: the hypersexualization of media in general and its infernal twin and reinforcer, marketing,  and the falling age at which girls start developing. Thank Cheebus that menarche hasn’t fallen as fast as the other signs of sexual maturation or it would be worse. It’s insane that in my daughter’s fourth grade class half the girls had obviously started to develop (and still believed in Santa).

          I hate feeling like some sex negative bluenose old geezer, but I wanted my daughter to have the luxury of being just a child for a little longer. She went from wanting Disney Princess crap to wanting BRATZ dolls (which we didn’t allow) to wanting makeup and the “older” clothes in about a year to a year & a half. The odd thing of her wanting to dress older is she doesn’t have much interest in boys at all, and I thought the two interests would go hand in hand. I count my lucky stars for now on that point (and the fact she has nowhere near attained the 36C “landmark” her mother did at age 12). But I must say, as bad as things look for girls (and to some extent boys, too) there is one good thing I didn’t see growing up and that is folks pushing back in vocal ways against the rigidity of gender roles. In 1979 you might read about in MS. magazine, but not in the larger general media. There is a least some of that, not enough but some, so there is hope, I think. Don’t tell me I’m wrong to have hope, please, I have a girl I worry about.

          1. Ms. Magazine had a huge influence on my mother. She used to make her classes read the Story of X, which was published in Ms Magazine. Here is a PDF version:


            Regarding the sleezy clothing, I usually remark after trying to shop for my 14 year old daughter, who much like my older stepdaughter is almost prudish in her clothing choices – like many girls who are still developing – that when I go shopping for her it seems like the retailers are expecting me to be outfitting her for the World’s Oldest Profession. We spend a lot of money on her clothing because we have such limited choices in shorts that cover her entire butt and tops that completely cover her bra.

      2. I grew up a tomboy in an average middle class suburb. I distinctly remember climbing trees in our front yard one summer day when my mom came outside to tell me I had reached the age when I had to put on a shirt. I was 9 years old.

        Don’t see a lot of that these days…

        1.  Daughter 1 regularly went topless at the park after school up until at least grade 1. Daughter 2 won’t do the same, but strips naked as soon as she gets home…
          Back on topic – I’d just buy the boy costume. Daughter 2 was Mario last year for Halloween.

      3.  I grew up in the early 70s and it is DEFINITELY more gender-segregated now than it was when I was a kid. It was a time of “unisex” haircuts, for crying out loud. If anything, you had trouble telling the boys and girls apart. (We also had “Free to Be You and Me,” as the recent Slate article recently pointed out.)

      4. I grew up in the 70’s as well and there was a huge trend toward gender neutrality, and even in the 80’s there was a big trend of androgynous looking clothing among the teens – girls were big shoulder padded jackets with leggings and boys wore hair longer and with product.

        During my grammar school days the big trend among the wealthier kids I went to school with (my mom was a teacher at a private grammar school which the wealthier kids of the city attended), was preppy:

        Which is a very modest style of dress, almost matronly.

        That’s not to say there weren’t girls who dressed as princesses at Halloween. Though my parents wouldn’t let us buy costumes which they saw as expensive and uncreative (choices were more limited then), but I do not remember this overt sexualization of young girls, no.

  7. As much as I agree with the point raised, I’d be inclined to take it more seriously if the month of October on BoingBoing wasn’t dedicated to uncovering as many ‘sexy’ Halloween costumes as possible. It’s truly embarrassing.

  8.  My annoyance at these costumes reinforcing negative gender stereotypes is competing with my annoyance at the first one NOT BEING A COOKIE MONSTER COSTUME.

    It’s a cookie-monster THEMED costume.  But Halloween is for dressing up AS something, not dressing up to ADVERTISE something. :P

    ‘Sexy’ costumes can be some of the worst examples at this, but a few of them at least also qualify as costumes, and I also see it on male superhero costumes where it’s just a mask and a T-shirt that shows a scene from “Iron Man!” or something.

  9. Just to flesh out (heh) the conversation a bit, one of the hidden issues with the “girl” versions of Halloween costumes is that there is a lot more flesh exposed….not just in a sexy way, but in a “we don’t all live in the south and it gets COLD on Halloween” way.

    Most girl costumes in Chicago end up being entirely covered up by coats on the night in question.  Conversely, boys can wear their costumes openly, usually thanks to an additional layer of clothing underneath.

    1. This!

      Which is why my kid’s dress up box is packed full of fleece costumes, including a great Strawberry that we stuffed with packing peanuts (very warm), fleece dragon, fleece skunk, etc.  Halloween is cold and often snowy!

    2. Where I live, both costumes would result in the wearer looking equally blue – but the girl would be blue from hypothermia…

      I used to call Halloween “first blizzard day”, because there was a string of about 4 years when it really did hit every time – and all the kids came around in their parkas, and described their costumes to you.

    3. I’ve commented on that before – that most girls who actually wear these out Trick or Treating put leggings or opaque tights underneath to make them warmer and less tarty. It seems like if the girls are going to hack the costumes to make them more comfortable, they could actually design the costumes for the season so that all the parts go together.

  10. equally hilarious is the adult versions of the exact same costumes.  with the Bad Photoshop job to boot. What if they made a pink or lighter-blue Cookie Monster-ette?  Worse or better?

    1. Boy version: Make all the siren sounds you want and run for the trucks in this authentic looking and comfortable costume.

      Girl version: It’s a five alarm fire when you show up in this firefighter uniform inspired girl’s Fire Girl costume.

      No subtext here whatsoever.

    2. I’m sure that parents are lining up to buy tight black rubber mini-dresses for their daughters.

  11. The blame for this particular costume disparity lies with the head of licensing at Sesame Street Workshop. Either the licensing manager at Sesame Street approved this design or failed to ensure that all designs are approved. That’s how licensing works: the costume company (licensee) proposes designs that are supposed to be in keeping with the brand image, and the licensor either vetoes or allows the proposed styles.

    Of course, party City doesn’t have to carry the costume in their stores, but then other stores might carry it. I’m guessing a bunch of  tweets or Facebook Wall posts on Sesame Street’s social channels would be enough to stop this at the source, by letting them know that this costume is actually hurting their brand with their core audience.

  12. Backstory to girls’ costume: Devoted knight presents Cookie Monster’s scalp to pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty princess who had demanded said scalp to crown stunning ensemble designed by the royal milliner. Grrr.

    From a corporate angle, the princess dress probably cost pennies since it’s cut from an existing generic “princess” dress pattern. Entire outfit costs ~50% less to manufacture than the fake-fur heavy boys’ version. Is the price point the same?

    At any rate, what I’m seeing is boring, stifling gender standards + corporate greed.   

    As the little girl who would have been furious at being cheated out of the cool costume (and whose actions and choices were dictated by parents who adhered fanatically to stereotypical gender roles), fuck these people and their continued promotion of offensive, oppressive gender roles. 

  13. My daughter dressed as Elmo ages 1-3, in a red version of the “boy’s” cookie monster outfit. I see no looming gender identity apocalypse as a result. She can dress as whatever she wants – a ninja, an astronaut, a robot, a princess, or a princess ninja astronaut robot. It’s her choice. I’m not going to stick a tutu on something to make it somehow more feminine.

    If my son wants to be a princess robot ninja whatever too, I’m more than happy for him to do so, pink or black or green or whatever.

      1.  The problem is, in the blink of an eye, they learn to have different preferences. By age two, my young un’ insisted on “girl” stuff in strange ways. We got a new kitten, and it HAD to be a female. She got a sock monkey for Xmas at three years, which she had asked for, but she cried for hours that her monkey was a boy, based on the tuft of red yarn under its chin, and she wanted a girl monkey. Attempts at sock monkey gender reassignment by removing to sex specific yarn tuft were unsuccessful in my darling daughter’s opinion. She knew darn well it was a boy. Took her to a baseball game a age four and she rejected the free baseball cap because it was for boys. Never figured out why she felt so strongly this way at such a young age as it was contrary to what we told her, at least tried to show her, and as I related up thread, she has always had a legitimate claim on tomboy status. Don’t think it was her lefty-liberal Quaker preschool either. Hoo nose?

  14. the weirdcreepy sexycute vibe comes up so, so early, long before they can understand what sexy is. on the heels of cookie monster getup, they go for the current equivalent of britney speers, an on up. imitators of imitators of sexiness. before going through this with a girl child who was close to me (and her friends), i didn’t realize how prevalent and disturbing it was…

  15. To me, this Slut-o-ween trend is a part of a much larger issue that I have with the hyper sexualization of women.

    Yes, it’s disturbing that on Halloween little girls are given so many over adult looking choices and so few innocent and childish looking choices. It’s a bellwether of a larger trend toward sexualizing women and children.

    Every day women are portrayed on the internet as sluts, whores – it’d shocking the language used in the blogs except that it’s become so common that it no longer shocks. The outfits in music videos are skanky to the extreme. Women actors and musicians can’t walk to the store without dolling themselves up six ways to Sunday or they are snarked at for having a bad hair day or dressing for comfort and not fashion. And they give into it, even the most tasteful actresses cave in to this attention to their bodies and clothes. I think Gaga is one of the few who sticks a thumb in the eye to it all. Where are the Melissa Etheridge, Joan Jett types coming up today in pop culture?

    Or, just one tv show example, on the show House, a show which is clearly intended for a younger audience, Cutty wears outfits that are tremendously revealing of her figure, and then all the men on the show make comments on her ass and tits. How did stuff like that become acceptable, to treat your boss – and not just your boss but head boss – as if she were just a piece of meat and not a wise doctor with power over your career? 

    I thought the feminist revolution was supposed to bring about a change where women were not judged by their figures and faces alone, but instead culture seems to have shifted so that it is entirely acceptable to reduce even the most powerful women to a bra size.

  16. You know, I don’t actually have a problem with the specific CM dress. It’s pretty, it’s frilly, it’s not even really slutty. BUT it’s not Cookie Monster. If a kid really loved Cookie Monster and wanted a Cookie Monster costume, they’d want to look like Cookie Monster – fuzzy and monstery. They don’t want to look like his young female nubile cousin. I guess, I just don’t even understand why even have that dress. There are plenty of other Halloween identities that DO involve a dress.

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