Costume Etiquette: Funny vs Offensive

Halloween is just around the corner, which means spooky decorations, everything pumpkin spice, and most importantly, picking a Halloween costume. Dressing up is arguably the most fun and most important part of the holiday, but some costumes go a little too far. Funny costumes have always been a hit on the holiday, but where does humor cross the line into offensiveness? A good rule of thumb is that if you think your "funny" costume could be offensive, it probably is. 

*Photo courtesy of Bruce Mars on Pexels

If your costume depicts yourself to be from a different racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, or sexual identity from your own, it's probably offensive. Blackface, or darkening your skin color in any way to portray yourself as black when you are not black, is not okay. It’s also wise to steer clear from cultural garments such as Native American headdresses and sombreros, as these items hold deep cultural significance for many people and are not just something silly to wear on a holiday. Wearing someone else’s identity as a costume is not only unfunny, but also derogatory, and using a costume to make fun of these identities is even worse. 

*Photo courtesy of Kate Photo on Pexels

You should also avoid costumes that poke fun at tragedies and violence. Dressing up as something related to school shootings, terror attacks such as 9/11 and the Boston Bombing, and domestic violence is insensitive, and simply not funny. These topics are very sensitive for many people and are too relevant to poke fun at. In relation to this, any costumes related to violence towards a group of people, such as Nazis or the KKK, are never okay. 

Halloween can be a really fun holiday when others take the time to consider how their costume choices may affect others. It’s very easy to be funny without crossing the line, and just because something is “politically incorrect” does not make it funny because of the shock value. There are plenty of hilarious things to dress up as that don’t offend or degrade other people. So this holiday season, think twice about what you’re wearing and whether or not your costume could be considered offensive.