Why Offensive Halloween Costumes Cause Damage


Photos courtesy of S*T*A*R*S (Students Teaching About Racism in Society) of Ohio University

Jenna Grayson, Staff Writer

  Halloween is a time of year that many people enjoy because the idea of not being oneself (even if it’s only for a night) is pretty intriguing. There’s tens of thousands of costumes to choose from — there’s anything from the classic vampire to a sexy corn stalk (I’m not kidding, believe me, I wish I was). So with so many options on what to wear for Halloween, why would someone choose something offensive, such as a “Mystic G***y” (Here is a link to the costume amazon.com/California-Costumes-Womens-Costume-XX-Large/dp/B003ICB3ZS/ref=sr_1_9?s=apparel&ie=UTF8&qid=1445981796&sr=1-9&nodeID=7141123011&keywords=gypsy+costume and is a video on why that’s a slur: www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhENGl3XviM&index=6&list=PLnvZ3PbKApGM-hHuQ9lNc5oSKsusjn0Z6 and an article as well: huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/24/offensive-words-_n_4144472.html) or an“Indian Princess*” to dress up as?

 An unfortunate fact is that most people aren’t aware of the harm that these costumes bring. Dressing up as a race, a tragedy, a gender identity, etc. is extremely belittling to those who are that race, have been through a specific tragedy (i.e. Columbine shooting victim costumes were scarily popular in recent years, you can actually see the horrific costume here- therichest.com/rich-list/most-shocking/the-20-most-offensive-halloween-costumes-ever/?view=all) and those who are transgender and/or LGBQP.

 Maybe you’ve got an “edgy” friend who plans to throw on a sombrero and a poncho and claim to be a “Mexican” for the evening, or you’ve seen someone who has done blackface at a party in an ignorant attempt to dress up as their favorite character from Orange is the New Black (Julianne Hough did this in 2013 and here is an article about it: nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/derek-hough-addresses-julianne-hough-blackface-halloween-costume-article-1.1499889)  Although it may not seem to be damaging to wear certain articles of clothing, a wig and face makeup, it is damaging to the group that’s being characterized in this process.

 When someone dresses up as a race, it generalizes an already oppressed group into a both harmful and offensive stereotype that only perpetuates negative stereotypes towards a specific group.  

 Things such as blackface and brownface are especially racist and have horrific origins. Blackface began around the 1830s and was used to mock black people and force negative stereotypes, such as laziness and hypersexuality (more can be found on black-face.com, which explains “the racist history of blackface stereotypes”) onto black people and was used for dehumanization as well. Doing this for Halloween only continues what is already a racist tradition.

 So, this year, skip (actually, just never wear these things unless they’re part of your culture) the headdress, the sombrero, the kimono, the burka (also the turban, hijab, niqab, etc.) or any other offensive item(s) that you may have been planning to wear. We should all learn how to appreciate other cultures, instead of appropriating them.