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Not your culture, not your costume

Don’t be the assh*le who culturally appropriates

Stay away from all Dia de los Muertos costumes.

Costumes are at the same time one of the best parts of Halloween and the worst. With girls dressed as potatoes and little kids looking like Albert Einstein, it is truly a magical time of the year. However, with ever awesome costume comes one that is offensive, if not all-out dangerous. 

It seems like it might be obvious, but every year college-students come out dressed with headdresses, with face painted like sugar skulls or wearing a coconut bra. Though these costumes rarely seem to be worn with malice, that is often their exact impact.

When individuals, usually of a privileged group, decide to don the clothing of another culture for ‘fun’ they usually only make themselves look ignorant. 

A privileged person wearing a sombrero may seem funny until you realize that they don’t have to endure the daily oppression that Hispanic Americans often face. Dressing like a Native American is ‘cute’ until you remember that many indigenous people could not wear that exact costume due to cultural genocide.

At the end of the night, an individual wearing one of these costumes can remove their garb and go on living their lives. For the people whose culture this belongs to, it’s not something they can simply strip away. 

If while choosing your costume, you are thinking of how you explain away any criticism, it is probably just safer to find something else to wear. Not to mention, your decision today could affect your life long down the line.

Look at Justin Trudeau, the once adored Canadian Prime Minister is now having to face consistent backlash for wearing blackface and brownface in his twenties. No amount of apologies or cajoling seems to allow people to forgive his decision decades ago, nor should it.

You and your buddies might laugh about your costume now, but it could cost you your career sometime down the road.

Halloween should just be about fun, and having to wear a culturally appropriate costume really won’t take away from that fun. A costume isn’t funny if it denies someone else the right to their identity. 

Instead, opt for the costume that creates a laugh that’s not at an entire group’s expense. Be that girl dressed as the potato. You can get away with a creative costume with using makeup to darken your skin or ‘props’ that are culturally significant objects.

If you knowing all this you go out and wear a costume, surprise, but those people who criticize you aren’t sensitive snowflakes, you’re just an assh*le who is too lazy to come up with an original or funny costume.

Here’s a quick guide to knowing if you’re in the clear or not. Things you should avoid dressing up as:

  1. Any indigenous person. That could mean dressing up as a Native American or as a Hawaiin Native or anything in between.
  2. Anything involving a kimono, a sombrero, or a sari.
  3. A religious figure.
  4. The big one: any costume that represents a culture you are not apart of.

Maybe all of this sounds really stringent. People might think, if they can’t be offensive then they can’t be funny. However, all this takes out are costumes that degrade others. If you cannot come up with anything else, then you haven’t really given it much thought.

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