Don’t Try These At Home

Social concerns bring attention to possible inappropriate costumes


photo illustration by Chasey Almirol

This Halloween, students try to get creative while staying socially responsible when choosing costumes.

With Halloween creeping up on us (literally), the common question of, “What should I be for Halloween?” arises.

However, now that we live in an age of social media and education on the topic of cultural appropriation, perhaps additional questions accompany it: “Is this costume okay? Does it offend anyone of a different culture, religion, or identity?”

Here are four costumes which are deemed to be socially inappropriate. In other words, BEWARE and stay away from these unless you’re trying to turn into a meme.

A Cultural Outfit
Dressing up in an exaggerated cultural outfit that isn’t your own is highly inappropriate and, therefore, frowned upon. It’s otherwise easily known as cultural appropriation.

Now, I understand the fact that popular Disney Princesses often derive from certain cultures – Mulan, Moana, and Pocahontas to name a few. So, if you do consider dressing up as any Disney Princess, stick to the look of the Disney Princess without dressing as the overall population of the culture. Basically, don’t stereotype or generalize a culture.

For example, are you considering dressing as Moana? Consider sticking to only her clothing without over-exaggerating it. Or, maybe not dressing up as Moana at all? Your choice. Besides the use of Disney Princesses, I personally highly do not recommend dressing up as a culture.

The fetishization of these costumes also are considered under this category. There is no such thing as a Kimono or an Aoi Dai (a Vietnamese tunic with long slits on both sides, generally used with long flowing pants) that falls mid-thigh length. An Aoi Dai is not meant to be skimpy or show even an inch of your skin. This is to you, Kacey Musgraves.

Long story short, sexualizing a culture’s unique garment is plain disrespectful. So stay socially conscious, and skip trying to dress in a Kimono, a mustache and sombrero, or coconut top and grass skirt. A culture is not your costume.

Blackfacing or turning your skin color to be far darker than it is
Now, blackfacing isn’t a costume, but it is an element of a costume that people often fail to consider as harmful. I don’t understand how people can’t see that this action is wrong on any day – Halloween or not – or why they still continue to do it in their everyday lives. However, that’s a story for another time.

The act of blackfacing emerged as early as the 19th century for use as theatrical make-up. To say the least, it is embarrassing how this is still happening in 2020. There’s no reason to be altering the color of your skin to fit a costume.

Mocking of Someone’s Gender Identity
The subject of a transgender person’s gender identity should never be used as a basis of a costume. People of the trans community struggle with their acceptance into society, so going as far as mocking people who are fighting for their own rights every day is insulting and embarrassing on your part.

If your outfit makes fun of a marginalized group of people, I’m going to need you to leave that at home, possibly thrown out. A highly inappropriate costume that fell under this category is when Walmart created a grandmother costume using a transphobic slur. It was targeted at men to wear and was described on as “a white tank dress with pink collar and colorful flowers all over as well as a curvaceous butt and chest pads to complete the look. Slap on some makeup and get ready for your granny walk and you will have the room roaring with laughter.” Though this costume was pulled off of shelves in October 2016, it’s still circulated around.

Being trans is NOT a costume! I beg of you to not dress as a gender presentation rather than your own. If you do, consider this subject of costume, just say you’re transphobic and go.

Body shaming
Believe it or not, plus size bodysuits are a thing. People use these suits in order to create an unfunny, tacky joke. Outfits making fun of people’s size are not only insensitive but also highly objectifying. In a time where acceptance is key, why would you go out of your way and spend your money on buying a fat suit?

Also, don’t forget ladies and gentlemen, we live in Houston. Wearing a costume with multiple layers will only leave you sweating and smelling. Which, if you’re smelling due to this costume, you deserve it because you went as far as mocking and objectifying someone and the way they look.

Despite Halloween being restricted due to COVID, you’re still able to get creative and dress up, but don’t even attempt pushing the limits on social decorum. If you need any costume ideas, might I suggest your Among Us character (not red, red is always sus), a ghost (which has been widely popularized due to TikTok), or something simple like your favorite book, TV, or movie character without being offensive.

The moral of the story – the options for Halloween costumes are truly endless. There’s a variety of costumes to choose from while being respectful of others.