Surviving Mom-Made Costumes: Target Sticks Up for Kids

Sheri Reed
Big Kid

iron man costume homemadeWhen you were a kid, did you have homemade, handmade (yes, the two are different), or store-bought Halloween costumes? And what kind of costumes did you want?

I think I may have been a clown four years in a row because we had a costume (my brother probably wore it before me) and one year my mom made me a Raggedy Ann costume. I might have worn that a few years in a row too.

But what did I want more than anything? One of those cheap plastic store-bought costumes with the cheap plastic masks that most the other kids had.

Hey man, when you're a kid, you're not out to impress adults who might appreciate your mother's or father's crafty creativity. You're out to impress (or deflect) other kids. And homemade and handmade and found-in-the-closet, in general, are not always that impressive.

A recent Target ad is poking fun at homemade costumes -- or more importantly, the parents who insist on making them for all the wrong reasons.

This recent Target ad is getting a lot of flack online with handcrafters and voices against consumerism. Take a look.

Over at, Tom Scocca writes about the ad:

Why crap on your own customers at all? The ad only makes sense as a piece of propaganda in service of a broader mission, to teach children that they should be consuming identical mass-produced products whenever possible. Would a kid in a funny homemade Iron Man outfit feel inferior to his foam-suited peers? Maybe a kid in a foam suit might feel awkward about being one of eight matching Iron Men in his third-grade class. It's all in how you set expectations.

I saw this ad in a completely different light. Sure, Target wants you to buy their merchandise. Obviously. They're a store full of goods to sell. However, I was thrilled that they were inviting overzealous parents to get over themselves as well.

For just short of eight years, I have been immersed in a world where the expectations on moms have become ridiculous -- of course, you will make your kids' Halloween costume IF you're a good mom -- to the point that moms, like the mom in the Target ad, can't even see their own ridiculousness. To the point that they'll send their own kids out to be ridiculed just to feel better about themselves.

This is not a discussion about parents who make costumes because they can't afford store-bought costumes. I'm talking about parents who are spending tons of money making costumes to prove to other parents that they are creative, crafty, eco-conscious, anti-consumerist, or otherwise good parents, whatever that looks like within their social group. Like the mom in the ad who, as Scocca points out in his post, clearly spent more crafting this homemade Iron Man costume than the Target Iron Man costume cost. They stress out and spend hours of their precious time. And folks, if everyone's being honest here, it's not always for the kids' sake. Because what do most the kids want if you ask them? A store-bought costume. And kids don't always want those mass-produced costumes due to some greedy consumerist mania.

If you go to school, a Halloween party, or trick or treating in a store-bought costume, you can slide right under the radar. Not too cool. Not too lame. However, when your mom or dad makes you a costume, it can so easily go either way -- it's a hit and you win the costume contest or it's lame and everyone points at you -- but either way, you stand in the spotlight.

Many kids, because other kids and that darn spotlight can be so cruel, would rather slide under the radar.

I'm not saying parents shouldn't make their kids' Halloween costumes. I'm just asking everyone to be honest about why they're doing it. And honest about how much money it isn't saving to make the costume when you add up materials, time, and stress. And parents should also be aware that your kids might not like it. The homemade costumes may embarrass them. Every single year.

If you happen to be really good at costume-making and you're doing it for your kids, NOT to impress the other adults, then kudos to you. But if you're not, this Target ad is for you and for your kids, to let them know they're not alone out there in that dark spooky night in which their mother insists on humiliating them so.

How did you take the Target ad? Funny or blatant push toward consumerism?

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