One of 17 signs on campus put up to educate students on cultural appropriation. | File Photo by Freddy Brewster

Commercial Costumes Can Be Problematic

Many costumes portray culture and lifestyle in an insensitive manner.
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Many costumes portray culture and lifestyle in an insensitive manner

Humboldt State students hurry last minute to piece their Halloween costumes together but find no comfort in commercial Halloween stores as the stores will often have sections full of costumes that are ignorant or insensitive.

Sierra Cosper, a forestry major, expressed her discontent in the commercial Halloween store, Spirit Halloween.

“I went through Spirit Halloween and they had a whole aisle of Pocahontas and it’s not cool,” Cosper said. “It’s 2019, can we move on from that now?”

Students agreed that Pocahontas and Native American themed costumes were disrespectful and unacceptable to wear. Haley Fedalizo, a liberal studies elementary education major, found another commercial Halloween store, Party City, to be disrespectful toward culture and body weight.

“Obviously the [costumes] that are in your face like the Native American one is not okay,” Fedalizo said. “I was literally at Party City yesterday and I saw a “fat costume” and that’s not cool.”

Jose Moreno, a social work major, also found fault in the commercial chain Party City. Moreno practices an ironically ‘fun’ tradition at the store every year. Often losing count of the inappropriate costumes.

“I went through Spirit Halloween and they had a whole aisle of Pocahontas and it’s not cool. It’s 2019, can we move on from that now?”

Sierra Cosper

“When I go to Party City or anything like that, I count how many cultural appropriation outfits there are,” Moreno said. “I’m like ‘there’s one right there, and right there! I lost track.”

Beyond the recognizable commercial chains, the internet continues to advertise culturally insensitive and inappropriate Halloween costumes and accessories.

HSU student Gabrielle Sturm, an environmental studies major, went online to browse for the Halloween season and couldn’t believe what was advertised.

“I was looking up costumes online and I was a little surprised to see how many [inappropriate costumes] there still are,” Sturm says. “I think they’re bad but a lot of people still do it.”

While cultural appropriation continues to popularize social media with cultural awareness movements, HSU promotes a safe and respectful Halloween season. Of course, the message on campus has no influence on commercial chains.

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