OPINION: Don’t ruin Halloween with offensive costumes


Kaelyn Savard

Amidst the fun and excitement that can come along with the Halloween season, people can still take advantage of the holiday and potentially commit blackface and other forms of cultural appropriation by simply saying that it’s a part of their costume.

Tessa Shinden, Writer

The crisp fall air and assorted candy tell us one thing—Halloween is approaching. That time of year when we can go around neighborhoods to ask for free treats and dress up as whoever we want. All is blissful and fun until you see a random person dressed in blackface, disguising their racism as a simple costume. 

Places such as Party City and Spirit Halloween profit enormously this time of year, whether that be on acceptable costumes or those that are built on systemic oppression. It might seem like common sense, but dressing up as someone who is a  Holocaust victim or mentally ill is never appropriate. 

Children who are dressed by their parents or guardians are often subject to this derogatory attire. It’s important to remember, however, that children who are imitating another’s culture are often unaware of this offensive nature. This only emphasizes the parent’s responsibility to educate themselves and their children to what is appropriate and what is disrespectful. 

Some might argue that it’s a “simple costume”—how offensive could it be? The effect of dressing up like this is much larger than anyone might expect. It teaches people that making fun of someone’s culture is acceptable, which it never is. It demonstrates how companies can profit off of cultural appropriation, homophobia and transphobia by those who are ignorant.

Arguably the most detrimental effect would be the blurring of lines between appreciating our differences and making fun of those differences. For example, someone who is caucasian could dress up as Disney’s Princess Jasmine, and might even do the character justice with the classic blue get-up. However, if one were to self-tan and change their appearance to fit the West Asian stereotype, the line would be drawn and the costume would be of the utmost disrespect. 

Unfortunately, this annual dress-up has become an ouroboros of a cycle. Because Halloween is such an anticipated time of year, it’s often mimicked during the off-season. Thus, not only do people perpetuate stereotypes on October 31st, but throughout the remainder of the year. 

In case you had a costume planned but have now realized its derogatory nature, have no fear—redemption is still possible. Recognizing your mistakes is the first step to making amends and the opportunity to create an even more chic get-up has arrived. Not only do movies, television, video games and many more offer a plethora of ideas, but popular ideas can be made into new, inspiring outfits for the upcoming holiday. 

With this wide variety of costumes available, it’s not difficult to find one that is not motivated out of contempt. After all, Halloween is the only time of year where most of us can eat colossal amounts of candy without being judged. Let’s focus on the positives and try not to ruin this exciting day with an offensive costume.

What do you think?