Every Halloween it seems there are a number of controversial children’s costumes that make headlines. This year, furor has already commenced over a “Naughty Leopard” disguise that is being widely decried.

The original report about the costume comes from Consumerist, after a woman named “Rachael” apparently submitted a photo of the toddler attire she found at a local Walmart. According to Cosmopolitan, she was in the Portland/Southwest Washington area when she discovered the Halloween surprise.

While it was initially unclear if the product truly was for sale, after some digging we found that it is, indeed, currently available on Walmart.com — but under a different name (we’ll get into that, below).

Sexualizing Little Girls: Naughty Leopard Costume for Toddlers Sparks Major Debate

Photo Credit: Consumerist

Consumerist shares additional details and voices some concern about the “naughty” label:

Every Halloween, we’re at the forefront of showing you who the Costume Industry Gods have decided needs to be “sexy” this year. Little girls as sexy pirate wenches? Dogs as sexy Catholic schoolgirls? This year, Walmart helps you to start your toddler daughter off early with the “Naughty Leopard” costume.

One of my esteemed colleagues pointed out that the biggest problem with this product isn’t that it’s all that bad: there’s not much all that sexy about it, and it’s quite adorable. The problem is that it looks nothing whatsoever like a leopard. Is this really what we want to teach our children?

On Wed. morning, TheBlaze turned to Walmart’s website using the search term “naughty leopard,” but to no avail. The search term ironically only brought up some random Christmas ornaments (see below):

Sexualizing Little Girls: Naughty Leopard Costume for Toddlers Sparks Major Debate

A screen shot from Walmart’s website

But a report by KATU-TV provides a link to the same costume on Walmart.com, but, as noted, it has a different name. The very-same “Leopard Child Halloween Costume” is on sale for $19.97 and the word “naughty” is nowhere to be found in the description.

Interestingly, the online product appears starkly different from the packaging that was submitted to Consumerist. But the design of the costume and the kid in the picture are identical.

Sexualizing Little Girls: Naughty Leopard Costume for Toddlers Sparks Major Debate

A screen shot from Walmart.com

While some are shocked that the “naughty” outfit would be on sale for such a young target audience, others don’t see why the story is making such a splash in the first place. Over at TheStir.com, Michelle Zipp covers the dilemma in detail, offering up her surprise to find what she described as a relatively benign children’s costume.

“When I heard about this Naughty Leopard Costume for toddlers, I thought for sure I was going to see a skin-tight leopard body suit with some chicken cutlets sewn in where the boobs should be. Something very “naughty” or risque and totally inappropriate for a little girl to wear on Halloween,” she wrote. “Instead I saw this cute little girl in what looked more like a goth princess costume, and if it wasn’t for the ears, I wouldn’t have identified her as a little girl dressed up as a leopard of the naughty (or any other) variety.”

In the end, Zipp said that, while there are many crazy kid costumes, this really isn’t one of them. In making her point, she focuses on the word “naughty,” which is clearly capturing attention and creating some angst. While some might see it as an overtly-sexual and inappropriate word, she argues that it’s entirely possible that critics are reading too deeply into it.

That said, Cosmopolitan’s Anna Breslaw has an entirely different opinion on the matter. While she acknowledges that there are different definitions of the word “naughty,” she’s not convinced this costume is such a good idea, especially in today’s culture.

“These days the connotation is way more ‘Spank me, Daddy,’ than ‘I stole some cookies and got into harmless childish hijinks,’ which lands this one straight on the Sexualizing Little Girls Expressway,” she writes.

What do you think? Is the costume inappropriate?

(H/T: Gawker)

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