What is Halloween without a good costume? My social media feed was a testament to this, as it was flooded with photos of people decked out in costumes of all kinds. Apparently the better the costume, the better the Halloween experience. I myself went as sexy Jimmy Neutron, but throughout my Hallo-weekend follies, I couldn’t help but remember a younger version of myself dressed in the very same costume, minus the sexy-factor of course. Back in the third grade, it took me the whole month of October to get my hair to swoop in a Jimmy-esque fashion. Not to mention months laboring over a cardboard box that would be Jimmy’s robot dog Goddard. When I think about Halloween now, and more importantly, Halloween costumes, I think in a college-kid’s frame of mind. The state of mind that throws things together at the last second and hopes that something will stick. That’s not to say that Sexy Jimmy wasn’t a priority, it just wasn’t top priority. But, for third-grade me, and most of the kids I knew, costume was key. Costume was not only the top priority, but the only priority come Halloween time. With that said, when I saw that Target included a disabled model in their Halloween catalog, the Jimmy-est part of me triumphantly chanted “Brain blast!”
You all remember Halloween catalogs: pages and pages of the best stuff you had seen all year. And you were reading it ravenously, taking inspiration from the pages and the fabulously clad models, or begging your parents to get you that perfect Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume that you’ve had your eye on since last year. But what I don’t ever remember seeing in these ads was a child with disabilities — until today. The model on the Target flyer, dressed as Princess Elsa, is held up by arm crutches. And in this Target has done two very important things. First, they have incorporated diversity in their models in a way that many companies don’t think of doing. Of course, in most ads you’ll see models of different races, but up until recently, there hasn’t been much incorporation of people with handicaps, especially children. Secondly, and most notably, the model is dressed as Elsa from the instant Disney classic Frozen. If you are a third grader or under, or know a third grader or under, then you know how important this costume is. Even North West, Kim Kardashian’s daughter and budding trend-setter, was Elsa for Halloween. Target put a handicapped model on the front of the ad, and put her in the most popular costume of the year. What this says to children and parents who look at the ad is that all people get to be whoever they want, regardless of their abilities.
Our society often looks at disabled people like broken shards of glass, something that can’t be touched or played with but in need of being cleaned up and, worse, disposed of. For Target to make such a progressive statement solidifies the importance of the individual. Similarly, in August the chain got rid of gender pronouns describing areas like “toys” and “bedding”. As far as diversity and individualism go, Target really hit the target (pun very much intended).