Halloween is rapidly approaching and so is the search for a costume. Every year, during Halloween, cultural appropriation and racism hits communities hard. Cultural appropriation is defined as “a sociological concept which views the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of a different culture as a largely negative phenomenon”. Halloween-themed stores continue to sell racist and culturally appropriative costumes that are indisputably discourteous to the identities being portrayed. Oftentimes individuals in favor of those costumes argue that they are “inspired” by the culture or believe it is aesthetically pleasing. Neither of the aforementioned arguments are valid as cultures are not trends. Now in 2015, it is time for wrongdoers to stop, listen, and learn. Deviate from getting caught in one of the following costumes this year.
- Native American
Native American costumes consist of insensitive portrayals of the culture such as the “beautiful Indian babe” outfit found on http://www.yandy.com. Frequently a war bonnet is featured in the costumes. The war bonnets have spiritual and ceremonial value; only certain tribe members who have earned the right to through acts of bravery and honorable achievements wear these bonnets. Wearing a Native American headdress is comparable to wearing a purple heart or any such medal that was not earned.
Blackface is absolutely unacceptable. Despite this being painfully obvious, it is still occurring in 2015. Dressing up as an ethnic stereotype or a negative portrayal of someone’s race shouldn’t be a costume.
- Middle Eastern Terrorist
Analogous to ‘Blackface’, this costume is based on stereotypes of a culture and aims to depict it in a negative light.
- Dia de los Muertos skeleton
Dia de los Muertos is not associated with Halloween and in fact a completely separate holiday celebrating Mexican culture. Dia de los Muertos honors deceased loved ones and the skeleton makeup is intended to be more celebratory than frightening. Blogger, April Nadia Munoz stated, “This celebration is not something you can buy and decorate with because of the fashion. It has a collective and historical significance to the identities of many people.” Similar to the Native American headdress, the makeup has spiritual and sentimental significance in the Mexican culture.
The aforementioned costumes strip the complexities of the cultures down to cheap and inconsiderate costumes. Hopefully a large majority of us will be more conscious of our costume choices this Halloween by analyzing the historical and cultural significance of an outfit before making a decision.