Every year we all try and think of what to be for Halloween and scramble for costumes. There are a few costumes that get worn every year that need to be left behind this year. One may think it is easy to avoid offensive costumes, but you will be surprised about some of the things you didn't realize were not appropriate after reading this article.
1. “Pocahontas/Native American” Costume
There is much more to the story of Pocahontas than the Disney movie would like us to believe. When English colonists started coming to their village, they were committing violent crimes against the Native American girls. Some of these girls were as young as 9 years old. Pocahontas was also only 14 years old when she was married and got pregnant. The whole idea of the costume sexualizes a young girl who lived an extremely hard life due to English colonists. Native American women still face some of the highest domestic violence rates and sexual assaults.
2. “Mexican Serape” Costume
A lot of people wear this costume thinking it is funny and will get a lot of laughs at the Halloween party. But this costume is blatantly stereotyping Mexican culture and that is not funny. Some politicians have given Mexicans a bad name and made them sound as if they need to be feared. This costume was also made popular in advertisements like Sanka coffee where it made people believe that Mexicans were lazy and untrustworthy.
3. “Blackface” Costume
Blackface under no circumstances is ever okay for anyone to dress up as. Dressing up in this costume depicts a gross mockery that dates back almost 200 years. In the 1800s, white actors would rub shoe polish on their faces and act out racist exaggerated stereotypes of Black Americans. You can check out one of the minstrel shows here that demonstrate the use of blackface. These shows were watched by white people who to continue to treat African Americans as less than human. This is a racist caricature of Black Americans, insulting them and reinforcing stereotypes. Racism is still a huge issue and this plays along with it.
4. “The Geisha Girl” Costume
This costume is one of the very common ones during the Halloween seasons. We have seen celebrities who have dressed up in this costume like Katy Perry. Being a Geisha in Japan is a highly respected profession with strict rules, so people painting their faces white and making a cheap costume is a slap in the face.
There are so many costumes that are cultural appropriation and can easily be avoided. If the costume involves a culture that is not your own do not wear it. Someone's culture is not something to go around and poke fun of or stereotype. Before deciding a costume maybe ask yourself the following questions:
What makes me what to wear this?
What are the best and worst reactions someone might have?
If I was in a different cultural background would I wear this?
Is it authentic?
Have you seen “We’re a culture, not a costume” project? Does it apply?
Also, you can get other people from different cultures' opinions and see what they think before you wear it. This Halloween lets respect each other's cultures and not wear offensive costumes.