We have seen many celebs get canceled all over social media for cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation is the unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of an element or elements of one culture or identity. Most often times it’s unintentional due to the lack of knowledge of other cultures. 

Well, what is the difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation? Appreciation is when someone seeks to understand and learn about another culture to broaden their perspective and connect with others cross-culturally.  

Appropriation on the other hand, is simply taking one aspect of a culture that is not your own and using it for your own personal interest. In terms of Halloween, it is always appropriation not appreciation.  

Halloween Don’ts 

Halloween is not the time to dress as other races or cultures as is appropriation. When planning a Halloween costume ask yourself these questions: 

  • Could I classify this costume as tribal, traditional, native or another race-specific description? 
  • Does this costume play into racial stereotypes?  
    • Do I need to try a new hair style that people of my race don’t traditionally have? 
    • Do I need to use face paint to make the costume work? 
    • Do I need to exaggerate my facial features to look good in my costume? 
  • Is this costume representing another culture that I am not part of? 
  • Would I want someone from that culture to see me in my costume? Would I get canceled on social media for wearing this? 

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you may want to re-think your costume. 

Halloween Do’s 

If you’re having trouble thinking of costumes that don’t play into cultural appropriation, take a look at some of our alternate suggestions.  


Day of the Dead? Try Spooky Skeleton

Sugar Skulls are not a costume or decoration. Instead, they are a symbolic representation of the life cycle, death, and rebirth. Therefore, these face paintings are only appropriate during Día De Los Muertos. If you want a spooky costume, dressing as a skeleton is a fun alternative.

Pharaoh? Try King

Pharaohs were the kings of the ancient Egyptian people. So if you were going to dress like one, try finding a King costume instead.

Mariachi Band? Try NSYNC

Dressing up like a Mariachi band actually reduces a rich part of the Latinx culture. Instead, try dressing up as NSYNC!

Eskimo? Try Reindeer Footie Pajamas

Not many people are aware that Eskimo is a racial slur for the Inuit people. Try dressing as a snow prince or princess if you want a fancy look with the same snowy winter vibes. If comfort is your goal this Halloween, there’s nothing wrong with wearing some comfy reindeer footie pajamas.

Pocahontas? Try Merida

If you were thinking of dressing as Pocahontas this Halloween and aren’t sure what to do, Merida is an excellent alternative.

Gypsy? Try Pirate

The term Gypsy is actually a racial slur for the Romani people. I would steer away from those costumes and instead, try dressing as a Musician or a Pirate.

Traditionally, Halloween is not the time for supporting nor appreciating other cultures. If you want to learn more about other cultural identities to broaden your perspectives or to connect with those of other cultures, check out the KEAP center or attend an event by Inclusion and Diversity.  


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Robin Woodhouse

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