We live in the ‘PC’ age, yet scrolling through the pages of Party City’s website for costume ideas, I almost can’t help but laugh. One costume, along the lines of “Women’s cutie Native American Costume” was so outrageous that it stopped me mid-scroll. The rest of the website and store featured grass skirts, feathered headdresses, “native american beaded chokers”, sugar skull face paint, and Giesha ‘costumes’. If you are planning on wearing one of these, I’m guessing you haven’t heard of cultural appropriation.
Although I do not identify as any of these cultures, I feel it is important for us to be respectful of them during times like Halloween. Halloween has a long history of hurt feelings and cultural misrepresentation. Wearing traditional clothing can be pretty insulting when worn for ‘fun’ by those who are not a part of it, or understand the significance. The issue is that these costumes are often offensive to many, and fun for few.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Halloween! I love the makeup and the costumes and the general fun. But I believe that there is a way to participate without having to hurt others in the process or just ‘in the name of fun’.
Here’s a quick guide of costumes you should avoid:
Day of the Dead Costumes, Native American Costumes, Oktoberfest costumes and Geisha Costumes are a couple of examples I found perusing PartyCity’s website. There are so many posts on the internet which will give you way more understanding of what’s appropriate. Other more “glossed over” subjects also focus on not wearing costumes which endorse stereotypes, such as “nerdy asian” or “Cholo”. (Dressing as these things is something people do, apparently. I’m still shocked). Needless to say, in countries of religious freedom, we should also try and avoid religious insensitivity, mainly shown by costumes like pregnant or sexy nuns.
As a general rule of thumb, any costume that mocks or could be deemed as insulting should probably be avoided.
Can’t tell if it’s offensive? Run it by a few friends, or imagine if you saw this costume as a person from that background, would you be offended?
Get creative with your costume, or make your own! There are so many ways to wear amazing costumes without having to step on any toes! So go create, and have fun with it.