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What Not to Wear: Halloween Edition

Am I the only one that hated Halloween until college came around? Candy is replaced with jello shots, group costumes reign supreme, and we can finally understand those political costumes that our parents always laugh at. What more could a gal ask for? But with that awareness comes a new responsibility. On October 31, 2018, it’s our responsibility to know what costumes are acceptable and those that are not. Here’s a comprehensive list of what not to wear this Halloween.

 

Religious Figures

Never should you find yourself wearing a nun’s robe while taking shots; if you’re dancing in a hijab because you thought it would be creative or funny, you’ve gone too far. Seriously. The implications of dressing up as a religion that you do not represent are negative and easily give offense. This includes gypsies, nuns, pastors, and anything else that overgeneralizes the individuals of that faith. People are more than their beliefs, and everyone’s belief looks different on the outside. Just remember: The Barn and The Eucharist do not mix.

 

Anything with a Fat Suit

Honestly guys, we’re making progress in the fight for body positivity, and what better time to flex those muscles (or lack thereof, if that’s healthy for your body) than Halloween? So let’s just say it: fat suits— not cool. Making fun of someone whose healthy body type is beyond the stereotypical “ideal” is a huge step backwards. We encourage everyone to work towards a healthy lifestyle inside and out, but everyone should be able to feel comfortable in their own skin. Just imagine how difficult that becomes while watching others alter themselves with unrealistic portrayals of an overweight body composition, all for the sake of a costume.

Beyond Fat Albert, there aren’t any costumes that absolutely require you to stuff a pillow down your shirt. Don’t do it.

 

Ethnicities

The days of ‘sexy Pocahontas’ and ‘Cowboys and Indians’ are long gone. Do not try to bring them back. Whether it’s Native American, tribal Africa, or a culture from the Asian continent, any costume inspired by another culture inevitably creates a caricature of that culture. People from different ethnicities do not look like the stereotype that you see hanging on the walls of your local Halloween store. No matter the nationality, ethnicity, or culture, people are beyond generalization or expectations.

To oversimplify an entire people in such a way is highly offensive, and just plain incorrect. We’re Furman students. We’re better than that. And let me just add: as a general rule, if you need to lighten or darken your own skin to ‘fit’ that stereotype, STOP. Let’s leave that ignorance in the past. Believe me, you are better than blackface.

 

Abuse

In light of the #MeToo movement and other recent events, I hope that a costume idealizing abuse is not on anyone’s mind. But just in case, let’s clear the air. Abuse, whether sexual, physical, or mental, is not a subject to make light of. It’s easy to grab some eyeshadow and draw bruises on your face last minute, but many men and women have bruises that don’t come from an Anastasia palette.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. Odds are, you’ve been exposed to someone that has suffered, or will suffer, real abuse.

When you wash off those bruises at the end of the night, those people have to face the abusive reality that is their past, present, or future. Let’s respect the struggle of those men and women, and not normalize abuse by dressing up as wife beaters or convicted sexual abusers. Our society is trying to redefine the stigmas around abuse and give power back to the victims that has previously been given to the abusers. If you’re thinking of a costume that may set us back in those efforts, then it’s just not worth it.

 

Ask yourself these questions before you choose a costume. Am I personifying a religious belief? Am I making fun of weight and health issues? Am I overgeneralizing the looks of a culture that’s not my own? Am I diminishing the issue of sexual, physical, or mental abuse? Asking yourself these questions will help you make the right decision this Halloween.

Be creative (I know you guys can come up with something better than Fat Albert) and make it fun! Halloween in college is awesome, but this isn’t your neighbor’s front porch anymore. We’re in the real world now, and we are responsible for our decisions, our actions, and, evidently, our Halloween costumes.     

Stephanie is a senior Communication Studies and Anthropology major at Furman University. With her voice, she wants to show other women that they can claim their strengths and worth, and that individuality is something to be proud of! She would choose This Girl is on Fire by Alicia Keys as her personal anthem (with Jay-Z’s Empire State of Mind as a close second). Stephanie has aspirations of studying post grad in New York City, and has no intentions of stopping until she gets there!
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