When costumes aren’t okay

Halloween is coming up, and many people are looking forward to the culmination of the spooky season, and all the fun events it consists of. 

In the days leading up to that fright-filled night, many partake in the tradition of going to the nearest Spirit Halloween store, rifling through the racks of overly-priced costumes and dressing up as their favorite movie or television show character.

For the most part, it’s exciting to see everyone’s costumes, and the creative liberties they take with them. For example, the myriad of costume interpretations on Eddie Munson from Stranger Things or a couple’s outfit pretending to be Barbie and Ken from the upcoming live-action movie.

However, we as a collective, believe there are some costumes that should never be put on in the first place. Mainly, costumes depicting, and in most cases appropriating, a certain culture.

If you come from a background that isn’t yours, pretending to belong to and identify with another culture is never okay.

At their roots, Halloween costumes are a glorified game of dress-up. You put on the outfit and the wig and become a different person for the day, before ultimately taking off the costume at the end of the night. 

For many, such as Native American or Indigenous peoples, their culture isn’t a costume they can take off at the end of the night. 

An average Joe can go to a Halloween party wearing a cheap, inauthentic headdress, pretend for a night that they’re from a culture that doesn’t belong to them and receive endless costume praise from their peers.

But when an Indigenous person wears the same headdress or even exists publicly in the same space, proudly presenting their cultural identity that the average Joe was pretending to present as, they have the potential to be the target of massive waves of hate and racist microaggressions.

Seeing someone doing this and not saying anything about it is equally as insensitive as dressing up yourself. We as students shouldn’t let our fellow peers culturally appropriate others’ identities, and turn them into the punchline.

At its core, Halloween is an innocent and fun holiday, and we should remember to keep it that way when it comes to picking out costumes. If you ever have to wonder if your costume is offensive, pick the safe option and opt not to wear it.

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