Photo illustration by Michael Weber

Perpetuating Stereotypes Ain’t Cute

Costumes that perpetuate stereotypes of cultures and minorities aren't funny, they're problematic.
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Costumes that perpetuate stereotypes of cultures and minorities aren’t funny, they’re problematic

The Halloween season provokes the competitive nature of costume shopping, but costumes that display a person’s culture, religion and tradition should remain off-limits.

Costumes based off of Native American, Latinx, Asian, Middle Eastern and African cultures are appropriation, plain and simple. Feathered headdresses, beads and tassels don’t adequately reflect the entirety of Native American culture. Just as Egyptian culture is more than gold jewelry and eyeliner. These costumes are tasteless, especially if you aren’t from the cultures you’re dressing up as.

While these are the obvious examples of appropriation, other costumes can still be offensive even if they aren’t directly ripping off a culture.

Other costumes that take advantage of different lifestyles, religions and customs include nuns, priests, inmates and military personnel.

The intentions behind a costume should be highly considered. You need to remain mindful of how you choose to display an idea to ensure you aren’t being offensive to any culture.

Cultures can’t be boiled down to a single costume, accessory or prop, so don’t wear anything that diminishes a significant part of someone’s life just for some laughs or notoriety.

The appropriation of cultures are so often portrayed in an ignorant and blind fashion that fail to value the importance and significance behind an item being used purely as an accessory. By appropriating a culture or religion with a costume you’re perpetuating ignorance and preventing the education of how to accurately respect and represent people.

Costumes that appropriate heritage and traditions pick and choose aspects of a culture purely for entertainment purposes. These ultimately cast a stereotypical image that fails to accurately reflect reality.

The transition from culture into costume disregards past movements, practices and emotions experienced by those who are being appropriated. Costumes often fail to reflect the original garments through the commercializing process, furthermore disrespecting the authenticity.

You should be able to decipher which outfits are appropriate and which are inappropriate. If not, you shouldn’t consider these ideas as viable costume options.

If you’re questioning whether or not your costume choice is offensive, put yourself into the shoes of someone who genuinely practices what you’re posing in.

Be a critical thinker. Before attending a Halloween party or heading out, check the fit. Examine your decisions, and if it feels unethical or immoral, don’t wear it. That’s it.

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