By Mikayla Silcox
Elm Staff Writer
As Halloween approaches and costume ideas circulate, people run to stores for a thick plastic bag containing the entirety of their costume. One package reads “Sugar Skull Costume,” and its presence in almost every Halloween aisle leads costume consumers to think nothing of it. Pretty skulls and colors, and no outward indication that it could have a meaning other than aesthetic. A sugar skull costume is a classic, right?
It’s not like the package is labeled “Day of the Dead,” so how could there be any sensitivity to the costume that is labeled in a way so simple that kids could pick it out?
Cultural appropriation is a frequent issue in Halloween costumes that is usually brushed under the rug in ‘naivety’ and ‘innocent fun.’
When Halloween apparel diminishes history and tradition, like Native American culture into a package labeled, “Tribal Woman Costume,” there is reason to criticize and acknowledge the easily dismissed issues of culture appropriation that becomes particularly prominent during this season.
“The costumes are not realistic, and they feel as if they are mocking the culture. There is no respect, they are just stereotypical,” freshman Leea King said.
According to King, cultural costumes steal from cultures and promote racial stereotypes, which in no way appreciate what they are representing.
These costumes are used as jokes or are taken in a lighthearted way, even though these costumes are personal and not something to be belittled to holiday apparel
Cultural appreciation would respect another culture through education and the honoring of it, and mindless costumes instead throw away history and tradition.
“A lot of things like braids mean stuff and have ties to cultural significance. While on the surface it may just seem like hair, it means something to a community, and similarly costumes have much deeper connections than Halloween. Parents also don’t stop their kids or teach them these things,” freshman Sydney Walker said.
Walker acknowledges the fact that stereotypical ideas are perpetuated throughout generations as parents allow their children to dress up in certain costumes that harmfully depict certain cultures.
While kids may be unaware of the insensitivity of their costume choices, education is vital in teaching people the impact and importance of culturally appropriated costumes.
Other age groups, specifically college students, should have more sensitivity to these harmful ensembles. Older people that still appropriate culture are most likely aware of the ill-intent behind their costumes, and should instead serve as an example to younger generations of what get-ups are appropriate.
Halloween costumes that take from cultures do so in an insensitive way, perpetuating stereotypes that shrink the importance of certain cultures. These Halloween costumes can be easily avoided, and people need to be more educated on their choices instead of promoting harmful ideas. People should rethink a costume when it entails a piece relating to a community they do not belong to or engage in.
Ghosts, candy, or animals are fun costumes that are welcome for everyone, and there are hundreds of similar options that do not make light of traditions or cultures.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Photo Caption: With so many Halloween costumes to choose from, it is important to avoid dressing up as a cultural stereotype or making fun of a marginalized group’s traditions.