Do we really have to go over this again?
Halloween is, for many people, the best time of the year.
I mean, what’s not to love about a holiday where you get to watch scary movies, decorate your home as if its a haunted house and eat candy until you’re about to burst. Not to mention how fun it is to dress up in a Halloween costume and play pretend for a night.
There are seemingly endless options for costumes for the spookiest holiday of all, but every year, people push the boundaries and end up bypassing a vampire costume and dressing up as something offensive and in bad taste instead.
While some might claim it’s all in good fun, or that people are too easily offended, the fact is some of these costumes need to be formally retired from Halloween costume history, because they are offensive, damaging, and take away from the fun of the holiday…
1. Any kind of blackface (or brownface)
Every year, I think to myself ‘surely no one will do blackface again’, but am sadly proven wrong when a white person lathers themselves in black or brown paint and dresses up as someone outside of their race for Halloween.
Don’t do this.
Blackface is more than just wearing dark makeup but has been repeatedly used throughout history to show unflattering depictions of people of color. Blackface went hand-in-hand with day-to-day hateful and discriminatory treatment, as their looks were being emulated as a form of racist entertainment.
This is all within living memory, and so even if you don’t feel racist when wearing blackface, it still is. So just steer clear of the dark face paint this Halloween (and always).
2. A stereotype of another culture
If you’re reaching for a Native American headdress, a kimono to be a Geisha or a giant sombrero and poncho this Halloween, just stop for a second and ask yourself “is this a costume that relies on tropes or generalizes an entire culture that is not mine?”
If the answer is yes, how about dressing up as literally anything else?
We can all agree that Native American headdresses are beautiful. So are Japanese kimonos, and so many other aspects of other cultures, but taking the traditional garments of a region or culture and using them as costumes is cultural appropriation, and you just shouldn’t do it, even if your intentions are good. Cultures are not costumes.
3. Body-shaming costumes
Every year, the “Anna Rexic” costume makes the rounds – a skeleton dress with a measuring tape belt to “cinch the waist – and trivializes a very serious eating disorder. This, along with fat-suit costumes are body-shaming and you should steer clear of them.
4. Sexual harassment costumes
While some people might think dressing up as a ‘flasher’ – think a skin-colored body suit under a big jacket that you fling open every now and then – is harmless, and the costume goes back decades, sexual harassment isn’t funny. Flashing someone is a very real and traumatic form of sexual harassment, and with everything happening in today’s political climate and the #Metoo movement, you should definitely not wear this kind of insensitive costume.
5. A Nazi or Ku Klux Klan member
Is the systematic genocide of over six million Jewish people funny? What about the lynching of African-American people? No?
Then don’t dress up as the perpetrators of these heinous acts.
6. Transphobic costumes
It’s 2018, so can we please stop with the cross-dressing costumes which poke fun at people who fall outside of cisgender norms, including dressing up as prominent transgender people. Thanks.
7. A costume mocking tragedy
Some people get their Halloween inspiration from events from the year and history but often take it too far.
There have been cases of people dressing up as school shooting victims, the Twin Towers being hit by planes, and even Holocaust victims – an Anne Frank costume for little girls was pulled from the shelves this year because of obvious reasons (like how dressing up as a holocaust victim is all kinds of messed up).
If your costume relies on exploiting a tragedy or mocking victims of a devastating event, you won’t come across cool or edgy. You’ll just look like an asshole, so don’t do it.