Bad Trump costumes, racism and sexy outfits for kids

Purim 2016 on the streets of Tel Aviv is bound to thrill partiers – and terrify parents.

Store sells costumes for Purim (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Store sells costumes for Purim
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
In 2011, amid the Libyan civil war, Muammar Gaddafi was the hot Purim costume in Tel Aviv, as countless Israelis did their best to mimic a violent megalomaniac with way too much money. It seems that might be the case for 2016 as well.
“We’ve had several people coming in looking for Donald Trump costumes. We’ve also had one person who wanted to be Hitler,” said Or, a young employee at Bruria, a costume store at Dizengoff Center that was standing room only on Wednesday, with a long line running out the front.
Selling a Hitler costume is illegal, Or clarified, adding, “But you know, somebody could just buy a wig, draw a little mustache – that’s it.”
There were no ready-made Trump costumes either, but the same ad hoc approach should work – buy a bad floppy blonde or orange wig, dust off the suit from your bar mitzva, get a red baseball cap, and you’re in business. For countless older Israeli Jewish men, making a Bernie Sanders costume is even easier – you wake up and walk outside.
I saw my first Trump costume of this Purim on Tuesday on a No. 25 bus heading through north Tel Aviv: a young man with a bad blonde wig and a white shirt emblazoned with a sticker of the GOP elephant.
It was good enough, but was sorely in need of some orange face paint.
Speaking of face paint, for Americans in Israel, Purim usually includes the rather awkward and offensive experience of seeing Israeli friends post pictures on Facebook of their children – or themselves – in blackface – usually in the guise of famous black athletes or celebrities. There’s nothing to do about this. It will happen again next year.
Personally though, speaking as the father of two little girls, the more offensive phenomenon this Purim (and I presume for at least the next 16 to 18 Purims to come) is the costumes available for girls. Yesterday I saw what I guess would be a “Sexy Minnie Mouse” costume, complete with a short dress, corset and thigh high stockings. It was marked “ages 4 to 6.”
Not to be outdone, there was the “Little Geisha girl” outfit marked “ages 3 to 4,” because they’re never too young to learn to be sexualized servants for wealthy older men. Little Geisha Girl was almost exactly the same as the “Japanese Girl” outfit, except not quite as revealing.
A young man working at a costume stand at the Ramat Aviv Mall on Wednesday said that so far, 2016 has seen the same hot trends as years before – cowboys, firemen, pirates and superheroes, adding that the reign of the Frozen movie-inspired costumes has yet to end.
Upstairs at the food court, though, the truly popular costumes were on display. These were the revealing costumes worn by young girls that didn’t seem to be store-bought at all, such as two girls wearing almost exactly the same “Sexy Schoolgirl” outfit as Britney Spears in the “Baby One More Time” music video, even though neither was born when that video was premiered.
This has been written about many times in the past. These Purim costumes even inspired an Israeli parody song and video a few years back, “Ani Lo Zona, Zeh Purim” (I’m not a whore, this is Purim”).
For Halloween in America there’s a similar phenomenon, in which every conceivable female costume has to have a “sexy” version. This past year the phenomenon may have been overdone, when one company offered a “Sexy Pizza Rat” costume that was inspired by a viral video of a rat dragging a slice of pizza down a New York Subway staircase.
Nonetheless, as the father of two girls walking through the costume aisle, I felt the cold realization that this was another way in which things are simply trickier for females in this world, and another indication of how my life has changed.