Carnival 2018: Why Should We Avoid Some Costumes?

Carnival is here and all we can think about is to party. Sun, loud music, dancing ‘til the sun goes down (and after): February is always expected as one of the best months of the year. Big cities like São Paulo stops their streets and avenues to people and all kinds of blocks, as we call here. Brazilians already have this characteristic of being “the most excited people in the world”, so imagine how breathtaking five days of celebration in a row can be.

But, if everyone is looking for fun, why did Carnival became a problem? If you don’t know, something really common is the crowd to dress itself with costumes, usually something funny or easy to create. Mermaids, fairies, unicorns and all kind of stuff. However, some of them are treated like jokes, and as we already know, they’ve never been funny, and now we have the conscience that several ones may offend or hurt someone.

If you think this is a subject that’s too much obvious to come out, don’t forget about what happened in the Vogue Brazil 2018 Gala in the beginning of this month (February 2nd). Tati Estaniecki, an youtuber, decided to go to the event dressed in a “tribute to the slaves”, as she declared on her Instagram. So, in order to this, she wore an horrible mask which resembles a muzzle. Of course, what was supposed to be a tribute, according to Estaniecki, was actually a racist act and left a lot of people angry.

Credits: Glamour Brazil

Beyond losing her reputation, Tati brought back the question: does we know which are the limits for a costume? And if you don’t, no worries: a lot of people in São Paulo doesn't either. Distributed on Carnival blocks in 2017, there was this pamphlet:

During Carnival, you can become whatever you want. Just don’t become statistics. Credits: DETRAN-SP

To some people, it doesn’t necessarily mean that wearing female costumes is always a problem. We spoke to Jeanny Lima, 22, who studies Publicity at Mackenzie University. Jeanny is a transsexual woman and tries to see both sides of the situation:"it all depends on the vision. There are people who have a more serious vision, but for me, everything depends. For me, it doesn’t really matter what you wear during the Carnival, as long as you have a good posture, if you’re not prejudiced in general."

She believes that people take some costumes very seriously. For Lima, the person's intention to use it is what counts: "I'm a trans girl, I would dress up as Batman or Superman, and that shouldn’t mean I’m making fun of men. If I’m using to play, to have fun, no problem". Still, it doesn’t mean that this logic applies in all cases. "If you think Pabllo Vittar is beautiful and want to dress like her because you admire her, it won’t make you less of a man. Now, if you wear Pabllo Vittar's clothes thinking she's a disgusting person and you’re dressing it to humiliate the artist, then we have a problem”.

Credits: Agência Brasil


Beatriz Magalhães, a student of the senior year of Journalism at Cásper Líbero University, sees otherwise. For her, using costumes based on some minority is a way of oppression. "Black people, woman, Indians: It's not funny, and you can’t dress for a day as it’s normal or ok, since you never went through what that group goes through. And to think that wearing such costumes is a form of representation is wrong, because in fact, the effect is just the opposite."

Magalhães, who is a black woman, thinks that’s very offensive when white people use afro hair, be it black power or braids, as a way of representing them. This comes from a concept called cultural appropriation: "A religious device belonging to a group, for an example a headdress [cocar, em português], is a piece that carries a whole history and symbology, culture of which you are not a part. So it's biased that you turn something so valuable into just one piece of clothing.", explains.

Still, we know that it’s very common to find certain types of wrong costumes being sold around. "I'd seen some people using headdress, and it's usual they say they're honoring Indians. But as I didn’t know those people when I saw it, I didn’t interfere. However, whenever it's someone I know, I try to talk to the person". In the view of the Africásper’s member, the fault isn’t only in those who commit these mistakes, but of the whole system that makes cultural aspects into marketable products. "The best way to honor a culture is to respect it."

Credits: O Dia

The lesson that remains is, as Jeanny and Beatriz said, that you can have fun without offending anyone. There’re so many cool costumes options that are so creative! Enjoy this wonderful time of year with respect, and leave your opinion about the subject in the comments.