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Does 'World War II Evacuee' Costume for Young Girls Cross the Line?

"IS THIS A JOKE?! All that’s missing is a yellow star."

It seems every year Halloween costumes get more tasteless and more controversial. This year's winner might just be the "World War II Evacuee" costume for young girls. At least at first glance. But is there more to the story?

First, here's a look:

If you imagined some Jewish undertones to the costume, you're not alone. The website Stylelite was appalled, calling it the "worst costume of all time:"

This is a costume that exists! And it’s for little girls! Some company called Girls Fantasy is selling it, and it is the WORST! The costume in question involves a navy dress, 1940s-style flats, a beret, and a satchel with some sort of tag. IS THIS A JOKE?! All that’s missing is a yellow star.

The inspiration seems to be Anne Frank (who, for the record, never escaped the war and died in a concentration camp). Holocaust-related children’s costumes: bringing offensiveness to a whole new level. What’s next? War refugee duds? Child soldier uniforms? Awful.

But the costume may not be as blatantly egregious as it appears. Blogger Nick Douglas explains the costume actually comes from the U.K. and has little to do with Halloween and more to do with education. According to him, children in Britain actually have to dress up for something called "Evacuee Day." Douglas writes:

This is a terrific example of when the “no-context jpg” style of Tumblr attacks!

So no, it’s not i) an Anne Frank costume or ii) a Lucy from Narnia costume or iii) a Halloween costume. There is however a backstory of GROSS CAPITALIST EXPLOITATION behind it if Tumblr does want to get angry, albeit the exploited parties here are middle-class parents, viz:

  • UK primary school national curriculum says kids need to learn about significant British history.
  • It also says small children learn about history best through empathy.
  • “Empathise” in the teaching of 5- and 6-year olds means “Dress up as”
  • So schools declare that they are having an “Evacuee Day”, “Victorian Day”, “Roman Britain Day” etc.
  • Parents get letter informing them that their little darling has to dress up as an Evacuee, Victorian child, Roman, etc.
  • Time-poor, stressed parents don’t want to have to spend ages researching and making said costume when they could be spending their time w/their actual child (or OK watching TV) (this doesn’t really apply for the Roman one because that costume is a sheet)
  • Internet search reveals readymade costume (see photo above)
  • Parents grumblingly shell out their £15 or so. All kids at school end up dressed identically. Costume company laughs all the way to the bank.

HuffPo confirms the costume is available on the site. Still, it wonders: "So British children dress up as WWII evacuees... but can American kids? Or would this costume still read all wrong stateside?"

What do you say? Even considering the "educational" aspect of the costume, is it still offensive?


The blog's Meredith Jessup sent over the  boys version of the evacuee costume:

One last thing…
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