Halloween is a holiday that allows us to become someone we are not for just one night. A night that should be full of tricks and treats, not full of offensive costumes meant to poke fun or hurt another person or group. While it is always fun to dress up as one of the classics (a ghost, a cat, a witch, an angel or a devil), there are some costumes that are too offensive to trot out this year or any year. I’ve compiled a list here of costumes that I won’t be wearing and that hopefully, you won’t be either:
- COVID-19 Related Costumes
The pandemic is still raging on and has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. This year especially, we should be avoiding costumes that might remind so many of their lost loved ones. While it should be noted that dressing up as a general doctor or nurse isn’t a problem, we should avoid wearing hazmat suits or dressing up as specifically the COVID-19 virus or a COVID-19 patient.
- Anything involving blackface (or another cultural stereotype)
Cultures are not costumes. This should be a well-known fact already, but it is never okay to paint your face a darker color or use another cultural stereotype as your costume. Every year, people we expect to know better seem to be involved with scandals surrounding blackface and Halloween. I definitely don’t want that to be anyone I know this year and hope I don’t see anyone else out there either! This also shouldn’t have to be said, but dressing up as the Black Lives Matter movement, even as a tribute, isn’t supportive. It’s tokenism. Wearing a shirt to show your support to a protest is one thing, but it isn’t an outfit for your Halloween gathering.
- Transphobic costumes
Any outfits that poke fun at marginalized groups are ones to avoid. Just a few years ago, Walmart pulled a costume off the shelves after consumers pointed out that there was a slur right in the name! With even such a large retailer selling costumes like that, it’s still a widespread problematic costume.
- Eating Disorders
It’s shocking to me that this is even a costume, but in 2011, a costume titled “Anna Rexia” was produced and actually sold out. Jessi Davin, who was suffering from anorexia at the time, penned a powerful statement on Tumblr, telling those who bought the costume to dress as a zombie or vampire next time since a third of those suffering from eating disorders are already dead. The costume, which features a skeleton with a measuring tape belt, intends to sexualize anorexia. Dressing up as a disorder that has taken many lives is not appropriate, this year or any year.
- Holocaust-related costumes / Other tragedy-related costumes
It still shocks me that these two people dressed as the Twin Towers after 9/11. It is also hard to believe that multiple celebrities have dressed up as Nazis, including Prince Harry. No costumes making light of horrible tragedies should be worn this year. Regardless of how long has passed since these tragedies, dressing up as costumes that poke fun or attempt to sexualize the parties involved in these tragedies is unacceptable.
- Religious costumes
Like cultures aren’t costumes, religions aren’t either. Faith doesn’t come easy; it’s generally something that people work hard at, so dressing up as someone else’s religion for a couple of laughs is highly insensitive.
This year, I’ll probably stick to fun and simple costumes: an angel, a devil, or maybe a cat. While you can definitely get much more creative than I will, you should also pick a costume that definitely isn’t offensive. My costume is somewhere around 0% ready, so hopefully as you pick your costume (if you’re procrastinating like me), you’ll make sure to pick something that can get some laughs without offending anyone.