With Halloween just around the corner, it’s important to be aware and mindful of what we wear as a costume. You might think a certain costume or look is cute or even funny, but to that person’s culture or heritage, it’s not. It’s one thing to appreciate other people's cultural practices, but it’s another to use Halloween as an excuse for cultural appropriation. Everyone wants to have a good time during Halloween but unfortunately, seeing your culture turned into a costume is frustrating.
Of course, you have the freedom to wear whatever you want, it's Halloween after all! But some costumes run the risk of being offensive to identities, or even entire cultures. If you want to be considerate to those around you, here are some costumes to avoid:
Dia De Los Muertos
This is a Mexican holiday that is not related to Halloween whatsoever, it is the celebration of life. Dia De Los Muertos is a tradition that allows the honoring of ancestors and loved ones that have passed on. Deciding to take a tradition from an entire culture and use it as a costume is just ignorant. With today’s political environment, Mexicans and Chicanos already face enough racism in our country. If you are chanting “build that wall” and then dressing like the people that you are oppressing, reconsider.
Having Mexican friends doesn’t make this one okay. This is specific to Mexican and Mexican-American communities, especially since this is rooted in Chicano culture and the 1960’s Chicano Movement (The Mexican American civil rights movement). Even if you dress like a “Mexican” by wearing a poncho and a sombrero, you are stereotyping. Don’t do it.
Do we really have to go over this? In case you weren’t aware of American history, Native Americans were massacred by white settlers. They have held onto their culture in the face of genocide. Need I say more?
Courtesy: The Insider
Part of Japanese culture, Geisha are women who entertain through the performance of ancient traditions like tea ceremonies and the art of dancing. Becoming a Geisha is a respected profession and an honor in Japan. Not to mention, they were also oppressed during World War II by American soldiers, contributing to the myth that they were sex workers. Dressing as a “sexy” geisha not only manages to hypersexualize Japanese women, but it also confuses Asian identity. So, don’t paint your face white.
Unless you were born with a brown face, put down the face paint and bronzer. Blackface is offensive because it dehumanizes the Black experience, and if you need to paint your face black for people to understand your costume then you should really think again. If you don’t believe that this is offensive or that this is playing the race card, the ability to be this ignorant towards the history of racial bigotry speaks very loudly about privilege.
Before you put your costume on, ask yourself if it’s going to be offensive to anyone. No costume is worth stereotyping a group of people. Remember that the key difference between cultural appreciation and appropriation is ignorance. Have fun and stay safe.