Halloween is a holiday we all look forward to, and in the correct setting, provides us with many opportunities to express our unique identities. However, it is also a minefield for those of us who have the threat of cultural appropriation looming over us like Harvey Weinstein leering at a casting couch. If you are devoid of progressive sensibilities, you might very well end up stepping on an unseen hazard (because of the minefield metaphor), hearing a brief yet sinister tutting sound, before the devastating explosion of offense erupts around you.
Nevertheless, have no fear (no pun intended), and allow me to take you by the hand (consent pending) and guide you deftly through the minefield (of which I previously referenced twice in the opening paragraph of this article), with the intention of avoiding the perils of the- look, I’m going to stop using the minefield analogy now because I feel like I’ve gone as far as I can go with it, but basically this is about Halloween costumes and how not to piss off minorities et cetera.
The obvious ones have been highlighted many times (‘Sombrero Man’, ‘Red Indian’, ‘Sexy Anne Frank’ etc). Therefore, I am going to flag up a few of the lesser-known problematic costume ideas.
Research the history of your chosen outfit. OK, so you’ve decided to dress up as a sexy witch… however could that upset anyone? STOP! Witches are part of the pagan religion and as such are protected from being marginalized by non-pagans. Also, years ago, women were burned at the stake for practicing witchcraft and so these outfits could have a devastatingly negative effect on the ancestors of those persecuted in the 1700s. Only dress up as a witch if you know how to perform at least ten Wiccan rituals and can recite the entire script of Hocus Pocus off by heart.
Assume that fantasy monsters are an acceptable costume. Your friend has told you they plan to attend the campus Halloween Ball as a zombie from The Walking Dead, hey what a cool idea! WRONG. Do you think leprosy is cool? Well is it? Also, dressing up as someone who is technically dead is a huge trigger for anyone who has lost a beloved relative. Tell your friend to rethink this horrendously insensitive notion and encourage them to create a more appropriate monster costume, for instance ‘Bad Orange Man’, ‘Bad Orange Man Supporter’ or ‘Pro-lifer’.
Consider how your costume might affect the people around you. While browsing amazon, you came across the perfect outfit. Mary Poppins! Who could possibly have an issue with this adored and respected Disney character? Well if you were to ask me this question, I would have to respond with an indignant ‘Do you find being ignorant easy, or have you had to put in literally hours of practice in order to become this oblivious to people less privileged than yourself?’ Mary Poppins is not only a symbol of white misogyny; she is also a jarring reminder for the 99 percent of people out there who cannot afford childcare that the financial disparity between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ grows deeper by the day in Trump’s America. To be honest, I am aghast that I am even having to explain this in 2019.
Dress as an animal…unless you are a member of the noble Furry community. Don’t dress as Freddy Krueger unless you’ve been convicted of child molestation. Don’t dress as a demonic nun unless you’ve attended at least one satanic black mass in which you gave your body and soul to the Dark Lord. Don’t dress as a vampire if you have no experience of being afflicted with anaemia and/or immortality. I could go on, but surely by now, you get the general idea.
All of this is pretty straight-forward, but unfortunately it stills needs to be repeated. Almost any costume has a risk of causing offense. To anyone who is still unsure, I would suggest simply dressing up as yourself. However, to play it completely safe this year, I’m going as ‘Blackface Justin Trudeau’.