Walmart's 'Naughty Leopard' Provocative Costume or Provocative Hearts?

Walmart has pulled a toddler Halloween costume off their shelves after receiving many complaints by outraged parents who deemed the costume as inappropriately sexual for children.

The name of the costume is "Naughty Leopard", but as you can see, the actual costume itself isn't sexual or even slightly immodest. As a matter of fact, it has more material on it than most women wear, as well a what most parents dress their little girls in.

The dictionary definition and common understanding of the word naughty is "disobedient; mischievous (used especially in speaking to or about children)."

I honestly find this parental outrage quite hypocritical. Let me tell you why. Parents dress their babies, toddlers, children and even teen girls in clothes that are highly sexual, extremely provocative and yet, because the label that's on the name of the shirt, dress, skirt, etc. doesn't have a "naughty" name attached to it, it's okay.

Have we as parents really become that easily duped, or have we wrongly mirrored our overly sexualized hearts and minds onto a children's costume label?

When I think of a "naughty" leopard, the first thought that pops into my mind is that of a feline getting into a mess, tearing things up, chewing or clawing on what they ought not, etc. The thought of a naughty leopard does not however, for me, conjure any sexual imagery. Not to say my mind is purer than others, as I know for a fact it's filled with just as many evil (if not more) thoughts and ideas as all people; for only Jesus Christ the Lord has the perfect and pure heart and mind (Prov 20:9, Mk 10:18).

Sadly, skimpy bikinis, low-cut shirts, short shorts, outfits exposing the midriff and other overtly sexual clothing designs are a norm for baby, toddler, elementary-aged and teen girls and women. I intended to include photos to prove this travesty, but after considering what the benefit might be, I realized that no one reading this article needs any more convincing than what's already displayed in most stores and ads.

Where's the parental outrage against all these stores that are littered with sexually provocative clothing for their daughters? 

Disapproval of the label on a piece of clothing rather than the actual content and design proves that the problem is not with the external usage, but with the internal aspects of the human heart and mind.

"But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But eating with unwashed hands does not defile a person...Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean."
~Matt 15:18-20, 23:25-26 (ESV)

In the passages above, our Lord Jesus is making it clear that our worldview and how we choose to live is not defined by external appearances (the outside of the cup and plate), but our lives are defined by what's in our hearts and minds (the inside of the cup and plate). How we chooose to live both in public and private is God's way of revealing to us and to others what it is we truly believe rather than what we merely profess to believe; for how a person daily lives is proof of what they believe (Lk 6:45, 1 John 5:3-4).

Understanding that the outrage regarding Walmar'ts "Naughty Leopard" costume proves the provocative nature of our hearts, let us consider a more superior and long-lasting resolution to this problem rather than the temporary one of merely pulling this costume off the shelves of a store.

Beloved sisters, let us not dress to impress or please ourselves, men or even to get compliments from girlfriends. Let us first dress our hearts to honor God, always seeking first His kingdom and righteousness (Matt 6:33). Then, let us dress our bodies in a manner that communicates we're daughters of the King of kings and Lord of lords―well cared for, with no bells and whistles that attract attention to our physical attributes, but with a quiet inner beauty that displays the invisible and glorious attributes of God. Then, let us, in word and deed, teach our daughters to do the same.

And Christian dads, daily show your daughters God's love for them; always exemplyfing her inner beauty (share specific character qualities you see in her e.g., humilty, servant's heart, friend of the friendless, gentleness, etc.) rather than over-emphasizing her exterior beauty. Tell her she's beautiful...because God made her that way, and not because of any adornment the world has to offer her. Give her the kind of attention that pleases the Lord and don't be afraid to lovingly disapprove of any ungodly internal or external behavior. If you invest this kind of quality time with your daughter, she will be attracted to men with character and integrity rather than men who merely look good on the outside but lack any valuable attributes.

"Fathers [and mothers] do not provoke your children to anger [sin], but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." ~Ephesians 6:4 (ESV)