Halloween is right around the corner and chances are you’re still deciding what to pick up for a costume. There are literally thousands of options on what to dress up as, so have fun with it. But you want to make sure those around you aren’t offended by your costume, we recommend doing some thoughtful planning in advance.
October 31 is about having fun and being creative and imaginative. No one wants to be a Debbie Downer, but we do want to be Informed Inez and Empowered Elena. Your costume should not offend anyone. Your fun shouldn’t be at the expense of anyone else. Don’t use Halloween as an excuse to be ignorant and racist. The following 10 “costumes” should not be an option—on Halloween—or ever.
Anything Having to Do With Trump
It’s probably safe to say, that anything associated with Donald Trump is straight up offensive . MAGA hats, his image, and his likeness is enough to offend women, WOC, POC, and anyone who dislikes hatred, discrimination or genocide. If “Mexican” costumes, walls, or other such things are added, it’s not funny, it’s racist AF.
Or Anything Mexican
Who said it was OK to wear stereotypes as costumes? Or even anything that is of another culture as a costume? First off, it’s offensive and perpetuates ignorance and prejudice. Secondly, it takes a people’s actual culture and reduces it to an amusement, momentary whim, and example of privilege.
Don’t do Blackface/Brownface/Redface/Yellowface
Why is this even a thing?! It’s infuriating to imagine that anyone would find it OK to wear blackface, red face, brown face, yellow face, or, in the words of Twilla Amin, “any face that’s not Facebook.” Please excuse yourself from the backwards-ass decades of past and don’t do this—ever!
Anything American Indian (Native American)
Whether it’s for Halloween, or Coachella, stop deciding it’s boho to wear American Indian war bonnets and headdresses, and other such cultural garb. War bonnets and headdresses are worn by tribes in the Great Plains region, including the Sioux, for important ceremonies. Only men wear these—those men are chiefs, and those who earned the right to wear them (each feather was earned), not drunk girls at a music festival.
Problematic Historical Figures
It’s cool to dress up as a powerful, inspirational, pretty, iconic, or funny historical figure. It’s not cool to dress up as problematic monsters, and those who represent hatred and intolerance, i.e. Hitler and other Nazis, pilgrims, Confederate soldiers, Jack the Ripper, etc.
Someone’s faith is sacred. I’ve poked fun of my Catholic religion, but have learned that it’s not the nicest thing to do, if it offends others of the same faith. If you’re an atheist, or of any religion, you should have respect for the beliefs of others, even if they’re not your own. Religion is not a costume. Recognizing this is just human kindness and practicing equality.
Anything Day of the Dead
Day of the Dead is an important part of Mexican and other Latinx cultures, dating back thousands of years, originating from indigenous peoples, and linked to All Hallow’s Ever (October 31), All Saints Day (November 1), and All Souls Day (November 2) . It’s not a costume, a way for you to test drive your makeup skills, or go buy sugar skull ceramics at the big box stores. It’s not a Halloween costume for Latinxs, so it shouldn’t be a costume for everyone else.
Sometimes people dress up as certain cultures because they think they are historic, nonexistent, and available to copy, romanticize, or misinterpret. For starters, the word “g*psy” is a slur used to describe the Romani people, Irish Travellers, Scottish Travellers, and other linked groups. So, please stop using it, “gypset,” and all other such words. Second, there are Romani, about one million in the U.S., and millions more abroad. They do exist and should be recognized, respected, learned about, and not used as an “ethnic” costume. Also, find another term for your love of travel.
Basically, the common theme here is that race, culture, and identity is someone’s life, and not something you wear with privilege and “humor” one night out of the year. Dressing up as a Geisha, in a qipao (cheongsam), or as any Asian stereotype for Halloween is wrong. Some believe wearing a Chinese gipao dress, in appreciation rather than appropriation, is fine (on any other day of the year), but whenever you wear a culture as a costume, you are wrong.
Princess Jasmine, or Anything Middle Eastern
Again, the idea is to be considerate with your choice of Halloween costume. Don’t dress up in as any culture (even your own, because why would you?! That would be disrespectful). Don’t stereotype Middle Eastern people by wearing a hijab as part of your costume (unless you wear one in everyday life), or decide you want to be a belly dancer all of a sudden. Princess Jasmine is also a questionable choice.
Anything Hawaiian and/or Polynesian
Dressing up in a coconut bra, grass skirt, and plastic leis is a bad appropriation of Polynesian culture. A lot of the things we accept as being Polynesian aren’t even correct—like coconut bras and grass skirts. The next time you decide to throw a lūʻau, pretend like you know hula, or trivialize sacred tikis, think about how this is disrespectful to Polynesians, who live this culture. Take this into consideration when thinking about Moana costumes as well.