Will your Halloween costume offend someone’s culture?

It’s that time of year again.

Yes, this is the time when we can dress up as whatever character we want to. People like me cannot wait for this day to know what we and our friends will dress like.

But first, before we pick out our costumes, we should ask ourselves: Is it culturally appropriate?

Cultural appropriation, according to the Cambridge English dictionary, is “the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture.”

The costume you’ve chosen may be offensive to someone from that culture; because of this, cultural appropriation has been a heated debate during the month of October. Examples of cultural appropriation that could go wrong include: wearing a traditional Native American garb; painting your face/other body parts to look like an African or other people from a different race; wearing a hijab; wearing a sari; or dressing like a gypsy.

These are not costumes, they are other people’s culture and religion that is valued by them. It may also have a great significance in their culture, which they respect. When people start dressing as individuals from another culture for Halloween, it dehumanizes the people from that culture. It shows that you do not respect their culture and you are also disrespecting the people of that culture.
Wearing a mask or dressing like skeletons, demons, devils, unicorns, princesses, fairies, and cartoon characters are better costumes to wear for Halloween. (They are in fact also the traditional way to dress for Halloween.) Then you are not disrespecting anybody or any culture.

With all of this it can be hard to find a costume for Halloween because you may not want to be disrespectful to people from other cultures by wearing clothes and accessories from their culture which can be offensive to them. It is good to ask questions about the costume that you want to wear—could it be disrespectful to people of that culture?

If you have questions, Minnesota State University, Mankato has great resource centers for you to go ask, such as the Multicultural Center in the CSU. You can also look it up online or maybe if you know someone from that culture, you can ask them. Doing this will keep you on the safe side and not bring bad attention to yourself, especially if the costume you are wearing shows a huge significance in that culture or it is an everyday outfit for people of that culture.

People from all cultures have feelings and for them to see people using their cultural dressing as a Halloween costume can hurt their feelings. You do not want to be portrayed as being disrespectful. You can appreciate other people’s culture but try to not appropriate other people’s cultures.

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