As we get closer to Halloween weekend, time is running out to find the perfect costume and the outfit possibilities seem endless. Can’t seem to narrow down and pick one? Well, I’ll help you in your decision process and fill you in on what you absolutely should not dress up as. This will help choose a costume and increase your social and cultural awareness.
If your costume idea is something someone else would identify with/as, including religion, race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sex, or sexual orientation, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board and start brainstorming new ideas.
If you’re wondering why these aren’t okay, don’t worry! I am going to explain the issues surrounding them. Costumes like these are cultural appropriation. What is cultural appropriation you ask? It is the use or adoption of elements of a culture by members of another culture. For example, a Caucasian person dressing up as a “Native American” or “Mexican” for Halloween. According to an article in the NY Times about costume correctness on campus, “It is dangerous to pretend.”
These qualities in which people identify with are used as characters or jokes during Halloween people can take on and off as they wish; but, that’s not how it works. People who truly identify with these cultures, religions, ethnicities etc. do not take them on and off as they please, it is who they are as people every day. Dressing up as a stereotype of these identifiers is very offensive.
To increase awareness, Ohio University’s S*T*A*R*S (Students Teaching About Racism in Society) released the campaign “We’re A Culture, Not A Costume” campaign. It features students holding photos of people dressed up as stereotypes of their culture next to the slogan “This is not who I am, and this is not okay.”
If you are still wondering what is acceptable and what is not, here is a quick list of costumes you should not wear or dress up as:
- Native American
- Religious garb, such as a hijab
- Inuit, Yupik or Eskimo
- Offensive figures such as Nazis or Adolf Hitler
- Geisha or samurai
- Mexican costume with a poncho and sombrero
- Jamaican or Rastafari
- Prisoner jumpsuit
These are just a few examples to help you pick an acceptable Halloween costume. It you are still unsure of what to be for Halloween after reading this, I suggest heading to Pinterest for some creative ideas that are easy and non-offensive. Here are a few easy ideas of what you can dress up as this year:
- Your favorite fruit like a pineapple or strawberry
- If you’re not a fruit person, then maybe your favorite veggie or food in general
- An animal
- A character from a TV show, movie or book (superheroes, Harry Potter, etc.)
- Portray a time period – Wear a poodle skirt from the 50s or be hippie from the 70s
Seriously, there are TONS of ideas out there. Just spend some time researching things that interest you and are not offensive.
Have a fun, safe and culturally aware Halloween!
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