The Creep Factor in “Dress Up America”

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It should be admitted that I am not your average, or ideal, consumer. But sometimes, it seems that I am in the majority in looking at a product and asking, What in the name of all that is holy and sane were these people thinking?

Recently, when Facebook and Twitter both blew up with news of the Jewish costumes in the “Dress Up America” line available through Walmart, everyone seemed to be saying what I was say; namely, “Wha?”

Let’s break it down a little. Fast forward past the creep factor of small children in “Rabbi” and “Grand Rabbi” gear, clearly modeled on the love child of an Eastern European rebbe and Ovadia Yosef. Oh, sorry – did I say children? Because I meant boys. Boys dress up as rabbis (or “rabbis”) and girls can dress up as “mother Rachel” or “mother Rivka.” And you know, keep on fast forwarding past the fact that the “mother Rachel” costume includes what appears to be a nun’s habit, and a picture on the costume itself of kever Rahel, Rachel’s tomb, in Bethlehem.

So, what? Boys can be rabbis – even “grand rabbis” – and girls can be foremothers? How is it possible that it’s 2013 and this still somehow scans as normal?

Happily, perhaps, the company’s bizarre gender-enforcement doesn’t only come down on its Jewish or oddly philo-semitic customers. A quick perusal through – the website of the retailer – reveals discrepancies between the fire fighter’s costume (labeled “boys”) and a Red Cross nurses costume, which wins this week’s disturbing time-machine award. Or the fact that there are separate boys and girls chef costumes, and the girls version has a skirt, not pants. I want to call up all the fierce women on the ragingly popular Food Network shows, and ask them if they find that skirts work better when they’re throwing knives around the kitchen.

Or at least, that’s what my fiancé – female, and a rabbi – suggested I do.

One comment on “The Creep Factor in “Dress Up America”

  1. Caroline on

    Oh man, skirts are not good in the kitchen. Especially long skirts. I worked in a commercial kitchen wearing skirts for a few years… it was not nearly as convenient or safe as pants, and now that I am comfortable wearing pants again, no way would I cook professionally in a skirt.

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