Your Parents Dressed You Up For Halloween As A WHAT?!

Let’s just say that 1984 was an especially cruel year for me. My parents took any shred of self-esteem I had developed and pretty much decided to shred it in one fell swoop. They, of course, did not see this at all. In fact, their ego crushing move actually came to me in the form of a gift!

My father recently decided to clean out his attic, an area that has the same square footage as a large apartment but looked for the last twelve years like the inside of a Goodwill drop-off center that has never been sorted. He was lucky no one (me) called the producers of Hoarders.


But last month he announced that it was time to do something about it and the attic now looks much different thanks to his hard work and persistence. During the process of the big clean, my father made a pile in the back corner for me of childhood things (i.e., ‘stuff’) that I could go through at ‘my leisure’; ‘my leisure’ meaning immediately or yesterday since when my dad is in get-something-done-mode, the only timetable that’s comfortable is the one marked ‘Right Now’.

So last week I spent about an hour in there going through a total of only two boxes, simply because it was such a trip down memory lane that I had to stop and reminisce with every rediscovered symbol of my past. The items I found ranged from amusing and slightly humiliating, like my old letters (of which there were, sadly, many) where I artfully pretended I was Kirk Cameron‘s wife; to bittersweet and nostalgic, like finding a never-worn nightgown from my grandmother to my mother with a lovely card wishing her a safe, happy delivery of her first baby.

Nothing, however, could have prepared me for finding two old Halloween costumes gifted to my sister and me by our parents circa 1984.

Now, back in the day, Halloween costumes were generally procured from one of two places – the local drugstore or your parents’ linen closet. I fondly remember standing in my neighborhood Walgreen’s choosing among the plastic wrapped packages, trying to decide which character I would become that year. I had to mostly wish that the body of the costume properly showcased who I was trying to be, because the string holding the plastic mask on my face pretty much broke by the third house I hit up for candy.

Or if it was the linen closet I raided, well, we all know how easily a good old-fashioned pillow case could become a scary ghost with just a pair of scissors. So minus having to take all of my candy to the local hospital to have it x-rayed for hidden needles, Halloween really was a simpler time in 1984. No Chasing Fireflies or Pottery Barn Kids with their elaborate costumes that cost more than your average car payment.

So imagine the thrill that my sister and I experienced when our parents returned from a business trip to New York City with Halloween costumes that they had hand-picked for us from FAO Schwarz®. These were costumes made from actual material that slipped over our heads and truly looked like what they were supposed to be. It was like winning the Halloween lottery … at least BEFORE I realized what the costume was that they so lovingly chose JUST for me.

Keep in mind that in 1984 I was eight years old, an age where Halloween costumes are really beginning to matter, both socially and to a child’s self-esteem, and I had pretty high expectations for an FAO Schwarz® treat.

My parents revealed my sister’s costume first, which was a very scary, very lifelike, but most importantly, VERY COOL witch costume.

Abby playing the part of my sister in the reenactment of 1984

Just what every average four-year-old needs, right? After handing it over to her and watching her face light up in delight, they turned to me and pulled mine out of the bag. My first reaction was that there must have been a mix-up at the store. I half-expected my mother to begin shrieking about how the ridiculous sales lady put the wrong item in their bag, because surely, SURELY, what had just been revealed to me must have been a mistake, right? I mean, they wouldn’t actually *choose* this costume for their daughter, as in on purpose.But, no, there was no wringing of the hands or frantic dialing of the phone, instead it was all smiles as they handed me my special costume.

It was…

Wait for it…


Yes, you read that right, no need to adjust your screen. My parents looked at all the available costumes in the largest, fanciest toy store in the world (at least back then) and thought to themselves, “I know what Ashley would look great in! I know what she would just love to be! She would love to be an elephant!”

Because what every little girl dreams of is dressing up like an animal that on its best day weighs as much as a barge. I suppose had they chosen a cow instead, I would have been slightly more insulted but I am not sure by how much. And of course, because this costume came all the way from New York City and was so expensive (I know this because my mother told me – she loved nothing more than to qualify a gift with its high value), I had to pretend as though this gifted costume was great. I had to act as if I would love walking down the street next to my little sister dressed up as the coolest witch ever to come to town while I trudged along beside her as a pachyderm, secretly hoping no one would recognize me through my eye holes.

I don’t honestly remember much from the trick-or-treating that year, but I feel fairly confident that more than one person at more than one house made a joke about how I must want peanuts more than candy.

Like any good mother would, I snatched up those Halloween costumes from my father’s attic and immediately brought them home for my girls to try on.

Let’s just say that seeing the photo evidence some 25 years later did nothing to lessen the painful memory of that poor little girl whose parents apparently saw her as the world’s largest land animal.

The eyes really say it all, don’t they?




Your Parents Dressed You Up For Halloween As A WHAT?! — 117 Comments

  1. I’m so sorry but this is hilarious! I am laughing so hard…can’t…barely…type. Parents are just so ridiculous. How could they possibly?? I can only hope to not do something like that to my kids someday. You poor thing!!

    • You won’t do that to your children Allie, because you will learn from this tale of woe and realize the years of damage you will cause for them! 😉

  2. And I thought it was bad that my mom hand sewed my costumes as a kid. Seriously just wrote up a post for FTSF linkup this week that I will be sharing all about this. I hope you link this up with us on Friday, because this is perfect for our sentence, “One Halloween,I…”

  3. Dude. The vintage witch is so hip with the patchwork and all! I’m sure it will be on PBK next year selling for $70.00. That sad elephant on the other hand…you poor thing. And to be EIGHT and have to pretend to rock it. Thank goodness it didn’t do any lasting damage to your almost tween self!

    • You are totally probably right! I should send them this picture and tell them I want a cut of the profits! 😉

  4. Awww! I was lucky to have an aunt to make all of our costumes – and they were pretty great. One year, though, she made an ewok costume for my brother – he was maybe 7? Our neighbors were apparently not big Star Wars fans because invariably the door opened, and they mocked fascination “oh, look! A ghost! And a princess! And a… bunny bear?”

    To add further insult, it rained that year, and the fake fur soaked up the water and became CRAZY heavy.

    • A bunny bear made me spew water all over my keyboard!! BWAH HA HA HA!! That is so funny…and then the rain soaking the costume just threw me over the edge! 🙂

  5. OMG, I saw the look in your eyes and then read the capture underneath….hahaha, so true!

    In kindergarten, my mom made me a pirate ghost costume. She must have worked really hard on it–I have this vague memory of fake seaweed drying next t to our kitchen sink–but when I went to the Halloween party at school all I can remember realizing that only the boys were dressed up as pirates.

    • Fake seaweed is really amazing…your mom truly outdid herself, but showing in the same costume as all the boys is really not a moment any girl wants to have! 😉

  6. My co-workers probably think I’m silly because I literally burst out laughing at BOTH these costumes! That witch costume is kind of scary! LOL! They are ugly but so ugly that they are cute! LOL!

  7. An elephant! Lucky you!! At that age my parents dressed me up as a SKUNK but it was “cute-I-fied” with a scratch and sniff perfume scented flower on my chest. A skunk!

    • HA HA HA! We totally could have trick-or-treated together! A skunk complete with scratch and sniff perfume is the best ever! 🙂

  8. ROFL!!!! That is HILARIOUS! Of course you always wanted to be an elephant. I mean, Dumbo was super popular at this time frame! Right?? On a side note, I had a witch costume that looked very similar. This was great!

    • Glad you enjoyed it! If I do recall, Dumbo was really popular! So, I am super glad my parents thought of me and Dumbo at the same time! 😉

  9. Your body language is so on point- your arms are just hanging there unhappily. My strangest costume was a tube of toothpaste- need to see if my mom can dig up a photo!

  10. hahahaha! I’m sorry but you must have been so cute, because the reenactment is adorable. Truly.
    You have made my day. And I visited all those costume links and I’m a bit disturbed by the $80 price tag on some of the costumes. Although when I was a kid, my parents bought me an expensive California Raisin costume. I wore it over my head and couldn’t see a thing!

    • I know, right?! Those costumes are SO EXPENSIVE! The California Raisin would be the BEST ever! Wish you had a picture of that! 🙂

  11. Funny! One wonders who designed it? Actually my daughter can relate. Her darling mother dressed her as an elephant when she was fourish. I’m thinking around 1998. The costume was huge. As I recall, her head peaked out from under the trunk which was attached to the hood. No wonder she tripped down the stairs at one house, landing splat at the feet of the horrified home owner. At least she got LOTS of candy from him…

    • HA HA HA Kelly! I can only imagine that the homeowner probably wanted to dump the entire bowl of candy right in her treat bucket! 😉

  12. Awwwwwwwww you poor thing you! I can see the look of OMG-WTH in your eyes. I can’t think back that far to what I wore as a child for Halloween although I do remember one year my daughter and I dressed alike (me as me and her as me). If I showed that anywhere now there would be a hit put out on me by the girl child – LOL.

    • I feel like that is totally clever…and I have a feeling it was awesome since I have seen how well you do costumes! 😉

    • They are amazing…especially not in costume form! 😉 She told me today that next year she wants to be the witch. So far, though, no takers on the elephant!

  13. Oh my. First I think it’s great that your parents kept all that stuff from your childhood days. I may be the only one, but I think the elephant is kinda cute. Super hilarious story.

    • By keep, you mean, they stored in boxes…yes, it was very great of them! 😉 Seriously, though, I was glad to find it! 🙂

  14. Awww, until I saw the picture I thought “how bad can it be?”

    Oh, I’m so sorry. those plastic masks that got all steamy inside just don’t seem so bad now.

    Thanks for the laugh!!

  15. Ashley I felt so bad laughing because I can only imagine what an 8 year old little girl would think and feel like in an Elephant Costume!! IYour model is wonderful and her eyes do tell the whole story!! xo

  16. OH NO!!!!! I will gladly share the name of my fabulous therapist with you. Just show her the picture, I am sure she’ll agree to do a self-esteem transplant for free! 😉 OMG, can we say Clue-less?!? Oy! What doesn’t kill us, gives us plenty to blog about.

    • HA HA HA Norine! Definitely pass along the therapist’s name…I could use it! 😉 Your last sentence made me laugh out loud!

  17. Laughing my head off! The eyes really do tell the story! I love how you built the suspense and made us scroll down so the “surprise” wasn’t ruined. An elephant? Really!?!? Silver lining: your childhood humiliation provided material for a fabulous blog post!

    • HA HA HA Mo…if only my parents could have showed that me that “silver lining” moment in a crystal ball or something! 😉

  18. Oh – this is just funny (and a bit sad!!). What a let down for a young girl!!! Were you super into elephants at the time? I can’t think of any other reason for that costume!!!
    Now, big question – will your daughter be an elephant for Halloween?

    • No, Kim, I was not super into elephants…my parents just lost their minds! 😉
      I cannot convince either of my children to wear the elephant, which is a crying shame if you ask me! 😉

  19. My mom picked out my first day of school outfit for 7th grade. Maroon jeans, cream button down top, quilted vest. I DIED. Totally shared your mortification on this one.

  20. Thanks for the laugh. “On its best day is as big as a barge…gets me every single time. My worst costume was an ant. I covered all exposed skin with black face paint and had homemade antennas. I just thanked God that there are no pictures of that one. 🙂

    • Oh AnnMarie, it is a total travesty that there is not photographic evidence of that costume…in my mind, I know it was glorious! 🙂

  21. Call me crazy, but as a Bama fan, I actually LIKE the elephant. Call me first if you ever want to sell it! My 10-yr-old might even like it!

  22. I remember the plastic costumes, most of which we could not afford, so we generally made our own. I will admit that I don’t remember many of the costumes, but I do remember going one year as a bag of jelly beans (think large, clear trash bag stuffed with balloons over my person) to a Halloween party. It was not the easiest costume to run around in and you definitely could not sit in it, but it had been my idea (I think I was like 6 or 7 at the time), so I was stuck in my choice, and obviously could not admit that I’d chosen poorly! The party was fun, but I had a really hard time participating in my bulky, prone to pop outfit! It was definitely a “lesson learned” moment!

    • LOL Julie! I can totally picture that costume in my mind, and I am crying with laughter! That is SO FUNNY! You poor thing…that must have been a miserable Halloween!

      • It was something, all right! Now that I think back on it, I was actually older than 6 or 7. I was 8 or so, which made me even more stubborn in admitting that my idea was bad! LOL 🙂 At least we moved out of state shortly thereafter so I didn’t have to face that memory with my classmates the next Halloween. LOL 🙂

  23. LOL! Oh my, I hate laughing at your expense, but that was absolutely hilarious. Where I lived, we usually had snow by the time Halloween rolled around. Or, at the very least, it was VERY cold. Therefore, our costumes had to fit over a snowsuit. I’m not kidding. That was the requirement for Halloween costume shopping. Will it fit over a snowsuit? There were so many adorable costumes (i.e.- The Little Mermaid) that I could never wear because they didn’t pass the snowsuit rule.

    • My mom used to tell me those kinds of stories about growing up in Colorado and having to battle the snowsuit vs. Halloween costume conundrum! 😉

      • my sister lives in MN and she used to make her kids costumes out of sweat suits every year. it was easy when they were little. red sweat suit + ping pong ball “eyes” = Elmo.
        it got harder as they got older.

  24. This is seriously all kinds of awesome. I can’t believe they got you an elephant costume. Being the girly girl that I was back in the day I would have been mortified!! Oh my. Saks had to have better costumes in stock! The eyes really do say it all.

  25. Hahah whatever, Ashley, your were not an elephant! Maybe you had a very serious DUMBO obsession?

    Your parents totally owe you, though. An elephant?

    • I had no serious Dumbo obsession…none. Zip. Zero. My parents just didn’t love me as much as my sister, obviously! 😉

  26. Ashley, I just shared this with my husband and kids. They were all hysterical. I don’t think anyone will be complaining about their costumes in my house this year!

  27. I was all prepared to comment on your story…but let’s just say that your daughter completely STOLE the post with those eyes! I definitely would have been horrified if my parent’s had bought something like that for me. But that Witch is pretty awesome!

  28. Ah! This is hilarious! My mom used to make my costumes. I should go into her attic and take a look at them. I think I blocked those memories out.

    Oh, and I totally pretended I was Kirk Cameron’s wife too!

    • I think we can both consider ourselves lucky that Kirk chose another woman Jenn! 😉
      And yes, go straight to the attic and report back! 🙂

  29. I will not laugh because I can understand your angst. So let me lighten it for you shall I?? When I was a sophmore in high school I was part of the Gifted and Talented Performing Arts. Meaning half a day of high school I got on a bus and went to another high school to participate in theater. We did plays and musicals. My second year there we did ‘The Jungle book’. I was an elephant. As in big busted girl who was already self conscious about her weight and her boobs put in a gray sweatsuit with a tail sewn on and a mask we made ourselves with this HUGE set of ears and a truck. Yeah I hated it. Did I mention we did this play for 3 weeks. Just like a Broadway show. We sold tickets, we made money for the group, and we put on performances. For schools in the area during the week and for adults on the weekends. One would think that not many adults would come to high school drama.. one would be wrong. So very very wrong.

    • Oh man, you poor thing! That is definitely a nightmare….what could they possibly have been thinking giving you that part?! I am so sorry!

  30. I am still laughing and somewhere there is a puddle of my chai tea that I spit out and I just don’t care because man, that was funny. I kinda want the witch/garden gnome costume and I want to just dress up and sit in places to scare people. Nothing beats these costumes from the 80s. Love it, girl!

    • HA HA HA Karen! Can’t tell you the pleasure I have in knowing I was the cause of tea spitting! 😉 And I swear to all things holy, the thought of just sitting places and scaring people in the witch costume made ME spew my coffee!

  31. Oh, I am laughing so hard! You poor, poor, sad little elephant. Although, if any of the kids act up between now and Halloween you have a really great punishment option. Isn’t that all the rage now? Humiliating your children into submission. LOL

  32. Oh my! I’m feeling better about my old drug-store bought plastic mask Bugs Bunny costume I had close to that year. Can’t say I’d ever dress my daughter as an elephant…

    Love that you brought them home for your own kids to enjoy (laugh at)!

    • Laugh at is more what they did with it! Although, I have tried and tried to suggest they wear it!
      I totally remember the drug store Bugs Bunny costume! 😉

  33. I totally get your mortification, but you do look awfully darn cute. I can see the horror in your eyes. I was lucky that my mother could sew, but she of course always had to put her unique spin on a costume. Unfortunately we have very opposite tastes.

  34. OMG I have one 3yo little girl who would LOVE that elephant costume!! Her special lovey toy from birth was a little blanket with an elephant head. When she was old enough to reproduce “what an elephant says” the toy was named Burrrrrr (say it out loud, it’s kind of what an elephant says.) Which later morphed into Booooooo. And now, every elephant she sees she calls a “booey” and she wants to love it and take it home.

    She is, in fact, going trick or treating this year as an elephant. And she is thrilled! 🙂

    But I can totally see how an 8yo would NOT be quite so thrilled.

  35. i think those costumes are super cute! like seriously. my mom got me a cheap raggedy ann costume that had the plastic mask. it was so horrible AND she dressed me with my private school uniform shoes. so the costume was totally inconsistent. ack!

    • NOT the private school uniform shoes!!! I totally remember my mom making me wear stupid shoes with costumes, too. It was the WORST!!

  36. The eyes say it all, but is it mortification or asphyxiation (or both)?? Neither of those fancy-schmancy FAO Schwarz costumes appear to have breathing holes, lol! Great story and pics – thanks for the laugh today!

    • Who needs to breathe when you are wearing such a fancy costume?! Actually, pretty sure I probably wished I wasn’t breathing a few times! 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *