The party was festive, and it had a theme. It was girls only, and all the guests were supposed to come as Madonna look-alikes.
So what, you say? Lots of women dress up as movie stars and such at costume parties. What’s the big deal?
Well, this was a bit different.
This wasn’t a party for women. This was Courtney Michelle Abner’s fourth birthday party.
Courtney Michelle had her blond hair fixed like Madonna’s and a tiny cone-shaped bra just like the one Madonna wore in one of her concerts.
“I made the costume,” her mother, Janet, said. “You couldn’t exactly buy that. Her father had a fit when he saw it. He thought it was too … well, you know.
“But I said all the birthday parties we’ve been going to are getting so creative. There’s nothing left to do different. And Courtney Michelle loves to hear Madonna sing. I just thought this would be fun.”
Eleven other pint-sized Madonnas appeared to be having fun, too. Three had on blond wigs. The others used their own hair. One was dressed up as Evita, with her hair slicked back and a bun at the nape of her neck. Madonna music was blaring. The little girls were doing their versions of dances.
Mothers were running around snapping pictures.
The costumes were suggestive. But the kids weren’t. They were just acting like kids, and their mascara and lipstick were getting all smeared. Every 15 minutes or so, some little girl would burst out crying.
That all stopped when the birthday cake arrived. Then all the wigs came off.
The idea of a “sexy” party like this did cause some talk around the neighborhood, the mother of the birthday girl explained.
“Well, you know people are more conscious of how little girls are treated ever since we all saw those pictures of JonBenet Ramsey in all of her sexy outfits at beauty pageants. But this is different. This is just little girls playing dress-up.
“My aunt didn’t like this and told me I was out of my mind. Little girls should be playing soccer, not trying to be Madonna. Well, I think they can be both. They’re not acting sexy; they’re just playing dress-up. And believe me, they may be just 4 and 5, but they know who Madonna is.”
“Where on Earth do you find wigs for a 4-year-old?” I couldn’t help but ask.
“I know one mother ordered theirs from a child’s costume catalog. Another got one from a pet store in Los Angeles that sells costumes for dogs. There are all kind of wigs and things for pets. They fit kids, too.”
The other mothers attending with their kids said they had also been questioned about the appropriateness of such an occasion. Again, the JonBenet Ramsey murder came into discussion.
“Well, that was excessive,” said Darla Montgomery, mother of 5-year-old Jennifer, who was wearing a two-piece costume made out of tiger skin and black shiny cloth. “These kids aren’t dressed like this any other time. This is just play pretend. I know some mothers who are scared these days to even put their kids in summer dance recitals. They don’t want to be accused of trying to make their little girls seductive.
“We all dressed up in our dance costumes and used our mothers’ makeup, and no one thought we were going to be ruined for life.”
The hostess, however, did admit that “a few” mothers didn’t let their children attend. They just weren’t going to let their kids strut around as Madonna.
“I think,” said the mother, “a lot of people are nervous today about everything about raising kids. We don’t know what to do. When I was growing up, we had ‘Tom Thumb’ miniature weddings with little girls dressed up as brides.
“Look at those kids; do they look seductive to you?”
I looked. The birthday girl was dripping chocolate ice cream and had pulled off her cone-shaped miniature bra.
“It itches,” she said. Then she fed some cake to her cocker spaniel.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.