If you’re like me, you’re always trying to one up your Halloween costume from last year. In the midst of trying to be funny and creative, it can be easy to forget what is appropriate and what isn’t. Sometimes a costume that doesn’t strike you as offensive can actually land you in hot water with others. So before you pick out your Halloween costume, read on for tips on how to avoid cultural appropriation this Halloween.
What is cultural appropriation?
Cultural appropriation is essentially taking parts of another group’s culture without their permission. (Think: Kylie Jenner receiving backlash for wearing cornrows.) Cultural appropriation spikes during Halloween because a lot of people make costumes out of cultures, which is totally not okay.
Go with your gut.
If you see a costume that you like, but something about it seems slightly off, ask yourself what about it is bothering you. Even something that you may seem as innocent and insignificant – like wearing a sombrero or painting your face as a sugar skull – is appropriating another culture. Good rule of thumb: if the title of the costume includes a specific ethnicity, avoid it.
Also a major factor? If your costume involves you changing the color of your skin, ABSOLUTELY don’t do it. Remember when Julianne Hough dressed up as Crazy Eyes from Orange is the New Black? Yeah, not a good look. You can always, always dress up without having to take it that far.
You could be made an example of.
Cultural appropriation happens everyday, and has become a frequent issue at several different colleges and universities. Sororities and fraternities have been suspended, people have lost their jobs, and more for wearing offensive costumes. (If you ever get invited to a “Cowboys and Indians” or “Mexican Cinco de Mayo” party, definitely don’t go.) Even if you aren’t the one wearing the offensive costume, you could still take some of the fall by association. If you see one of your friends out in an offensive costume this year, try to explain to them the repercussions of cultural appropriation.
There are SO many other options out there!
Bottom line: if you have to wonder if your costume is offensive, it probably is. There are tons of other options out there, so why not just scrap your idea and start of? Grab your best pals and go as the Spice Girls, make your boyfriend the Barbie to your Ken, or just show up in a spooky t-shirt and call it a day. It is so easy to avoid cultural appropriation, and it is super important that you do.