I want everyone to have a great Halloween. I want the holiday to be as mystical and spooky as when we were kids. I want there to be lots of laughing and candy and creativity and fun.
But I don’t want this Halloween to be ruined by offensive costumes. Seriously. Aren’t people tired of dressing up as “Mexicans” each year? What’s funny about donning a sombrero, poncho, and mustache while talking about “tacos” in a fake “Spanish” accent? What about that says “Mexican”? And what about that is funny?
I want to believe we are smart and creative enough to come up with Halloween costumes that don’t rely on outdated stereotypes or racist ideas in order to be successful. It’s not about being “politically correct” — it’s about being a good person. So follow these seven commandments and you’ll have a happy, harmless Halloween without offensive costumes.
Thou shalt not dress up like a race, ethnicity or culture.
This is never, ever a good idea. No one’s race, ethnicity, or culture should be viewed as a costume — a toy that someone else can “play” with or an item that can be put on and off at one’s leisure. You can’t pretend to be “Mexican” or “black” because these are not costumes. These are identities that cannot be used for one night of pretend.
It isn’t just about racism, but also about cultural appropriation. Sumney on Tumblr sums it up nicely by saying:
When you dress up as other races, you’re not only covering up your own identity — you risk covering up your mind’s ability to differentiate real people from their stereotypes and caricatures.
Thou shalt not alter thou’s skin color to resemble another race or ethnicity.
Most already know how hurtful it is to try to change your skin tone to match that of another race – but what they may not know is that these things are offensive even if their intentions aren’t malicious. I’ve heard so many who wear something like blackface as part of their Halloween costume say that they’re just trying to pay “tribute” to a celebrity, failing to realize that it doesn’t matter WHY they did it — just that they did it, and it’s wrong.
Blackface has a deeply rooted racist history in the United States. It extends back to minstrel shows in which white actors would paint their faces black and lips red or white to mock the physical appearance African Americans and perform grotesque “comedy” based on the idea that black people aren’t human beings.
“But I’m not black and I want to be Nicki Minaj!” you say. And to that I say, go right ahead — just don’t alter your skin tone. You an absolutely be a character or a person of another race by using other characteristics in order to portray that person. You don’t need to also make sure your skin “matches” theirs.
Altering your skin color in order to resemble someone of another race essentially strips a person down to just their skin color. So don’t alter your skin tone to make yourself look black. Don’t do it to make yourself look Asian. Don’t do it to make yourself look Latin@. Don’t do it to make yourself look Native American. Don’t. Do. It.
Thou shalt be respectful of others’ costumes, even if they don’t look exactly like the person/character they are portraying.
If a fat white person decides to dress up like Lady Gaga, they aren’t “fat Lady Gaga,” they’re just “Lady Gaga.” If a Korean person dresses up like Wonder Woman, they aren’t “Korean Wonder Woman,” they’re just “Wonder Woman.” Let them decide if they are some version of the character they are portraying.
Thou shalt avoid body snarking.
All bodies are good bodies and they’re not for you to judge, especially out loud. Keep it to yourself.
Thou shalt not feel pressured to dress in a revealing costume.
Most costumes available for men and women differ in a fundamental way — the option for women is almost always the “sexy” or “sassy” version. It’s not that women don’t want the sexy options of costumes to exist; it’s the fact that they’re the only options presented that is troublesome. Unless you make a costume yourself (or happen to be fat) then you can bet any costume marketed to women is dubbed “sexy.”
Thou shalt not judge those who opt to dress in a “sexy” costume.
Even if being “sexy Oscar the Grouch” isn’t someone’s thing, they shouldn’t feel like it’s then their right to belittle women who do opt for sexy costumes. Women who wear sexy or revealing Halloween costumes are not sluts, hos, or whores. In fact, we shouldn’t be calling ANY woman a slut, ho, or whore because it’s not our business what she does with her sex life or body. Period.
Thou shalt have fun and get creative.
Just because there are some costumes that are off limits doesn’t suddenly mean there are “no” costumes left. There are plenty! Be Mary Poppins, be an ice cream cone, be a Transformer, be a zombie, be a flower pot, be Pinterest, be a shark, be the Headless Horseman, be Britney Spears, be an iPhone, be a Disney princess, be a dog, be a bumblebee, be an axe murderer, be a skeleton…
- Chescaleigh presents: Costume #FAILS
- Dia De Los Muertos Is Not Your Halloween
- Don’t Mess Up When You Dress Up: Cultural Appropriation and Costumes
- Time to End Racist Halloween Costumes
What are you going to be for Halloween this year?