Here’s your annual reminder that it’s not festive to dress up like a privileged jerk this year for Halloween.
I mean, we’re already off to a pretty great start in general, society.
Walmart.com had to take down a Tranny Granny costume. Disney removed a “Moana” costume that appeared to promote “brownface.” And one retailer pulled a costume making light of Kim Kardashian being a victim of armed robbery.
Here’s a handy guide on how not to reduce someone’s culture to shiny pleather; how not to hyper-sexualize an entire gender; and how not to make light of serious issues.
Dangerous Stereotypes About Terrorism Aren’t Really A Laughing Matter
Muslim communities in America have to deal with an unjust level of Islamophobia as it is. Parading around on Halloween as a “bomber” in traditional Middle Eastern clothes just further perpetuates harmful stereotypes. Also, terrorism is no laughing matter: Groups like Boko Haram and the Islamic State take the lives of thousands of people each year.
Mocking Undocumented Immigrants Is Tasteless And Insensitive
The election rhetoric around immigration has gotten intense, to say the least. So particularly in this environment, wearing a costume that boasts a derogatory term for undocumented immigrants, “illegal alien” ― and that actually depicts someone with a green card as an extraterrestrial ― is not only dangerous but it’s also tasteless.
Some immigrants are fleeing serious violence in their home countries, while others are simply seeking a better life for their families. All of them deserve our respect as fellow humans.
Try Not To Hypersexualize Women With Every. Single. Costume.
It’s hard to ruin anything related to “Hamilton,” but somehow Halloween did.
Costume retailers, please stop making women’s costumes the “sexy” version of everything. We’ve seen sexy sharks, sexy burritos and, of course, a sexy Ken Bone. It’s hard to believe, but a regular costume, like a man gets to wear, would be fine with women, too.
Casually ‘Painting’ On A Race For A Night Upholds Systemic Racism And Is Beyond Privileged
To the 52 percent of white Americans who think it’s okay to dress in blackface for Halloween, here’s some advice for you: Just don’t.
Blackface has a long and racist history that, by painting your face black on Halloween, you are actively choosing to ignore, and in fact are perpetuating.
“For so many black Americans, blackface carries unavoidable associations of hate, violence and degradation, and if you choose to wear it, you’re basically broadcasting the message ‘I don’t give a shit about black people’s feelings,’” writes HuffPost reporter Julia Craven.
Plus, the ability to casually wipe off a skin color at the end of the night ― without having to live through the accompanying real-life discrimination ― is classic privilege.
“Once you’re done masquerading as a black person — employing the same techniques used not just to belittle the black experience, but to prop up the systemic subjugation of the entire race — you get to remove the color from your skin,” Craven adds. “Black people do not have this luxury. We cannot wash our blackness from ourselves, nor can we eliminate all the stereotypes and all the forms of oppression that come with it.”
Most Asians Don’t Like To Be Depicted As Exotic And Servantile
The depiction of geishas comes loaded with a complicated and dehumanizing history. So the act of wearing the traditional Japanese garb as a costume can make light of ― and uphold ― stereotypes related to oppression rooted in racism and sexism.
Blogger Nina Jacinto wrote about the depiction of geishas, stating:
“It’s a troubling attempt to sidestep authentic representation and humanization of a culture and opt instead for racialized fetishizing against Asian women.”
Dressing Up As Another Culture Isn’t Appreciation, It’s Appropriation
From the Red Skins team mascot to Halloween’s surge of Pocahotties costumes, American pop culture regularly takes from Native culture without permission, and uses it (or misuses it, rather) for its own entertainment.
The fact that someone can don another person’s reality for an evening, whether their culture, race or religion, and then toss it aside at their convenience, is the epitome of privilege.
As HuffPost blogger Nadia Dawisha put it: “This is why it is so dangerous to ‘dress up’ as another culture, because a white person who dresses up as a ‘Mexican’ in Arizona doesn’t have to worry that his citizenship will be questioned. He can go to a ‘ghetto’ party and wear his hoodie up in an effort to look more ‘hood’ without fearing that he will get killed like Trayvon Martin.”
But Everyone, DO Wear This
For those of you still wondering what to wear, take a note from the funny (pun-y?) cactus above. Or you can check out these badass looks for ladies, these family-friendly get-ups, or these creative costumes for two.