Halloween Costumes to Avoid

Halloween is fast approaching, but take the time to think through your costume in order to avoid sending the wrong message.

Veronika Karenina via The Noun Project

Halloween is fast approaching, but take the time to think through your costume in order to avoid sending the wrong message.

Many people aren’t celebrating Halloween this year because of COVID-19, but if you do decide to dress up there are a few types of costumes you should avoid. In recent years many people have been called out for wearing insensitive or offensive costumes, and many celebrities have been “canceled.” It’s important to think about costumes before you wear them, so here are a few outfits to stay away from.

Cop and Prisoner Costumes

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter Movement, the amount of police brutality being brought to light and the unjust treatment of people of color by the justice system, these costumes can be interpreted as insensitive, and are better to avoid. The justice system is noticeably biased against people of color, especially Black people, and wearing a cop or convict costume shows the privilege of ignoring how the system treats POC. Many Black people are treated poorly by the police, are given longer sentences and are convicted more often than their white counterparts. The racism in our justice system is a very important issue, and those costumes can be seen as inappropriate and ignorant. 

Cultural Appropriation Costumes

Costumes that are just cultural appropriation or offensive to cultural groups should also be avoided. Costumes with traditional Native American aspects, like headdresses or other wear, is an example of this, especially considering these are often called “Indian” costumes, rather than Native American. These outfits are making a mockery of an entire people and culture. The use of their traditional dress as a costume, even if not intentionally, invalidates their culture. These outfits are not something a white person would wear on a regular day, so by wearing it as a costume it seems like you are either seeing the outfit as something so ridiculous that you could only wear it as a joke, or are ignoring the historical implications of the pieces. 

“Fortune Teller” Costumes

Costumes that are based on the Roma community are also often offensive. Some are being called “Fortune Teller” costumes, but others are more overtly offensive and just called “G*psy” outfits. The Roma community was subjected to a vile slave trade and are often seen as thieves and deceitful, or as artists free of social norms. Either way, they are stereotyped and their culture is made fun of. Turning the culture into a costume, especially after the plights of the Roma community is insensitive. 

Voodoo Costumes

Since Voodoo was originally created by African immigrants and former slaves in New Orleans, the legitimate Voudon religion shouldn’t be sensationalized or made to be a caricature. Turning the religion into a joke or scary decoration delegitimizes the actual religion and its African roots, especially considering that it originated because of the U.S. slave trade, which robbed many Africans of their culture and forced the melding of several different African countries’ traditions as they were grouped together by slave traders. 

Day of the Dead Costumes

On a similar note, Day of the Dead costumes or outfits that include the traditional wear of that holiday are in fact offensive. The celebration of Dia de Muertos is very important to many Latinx people; it’s a day honoring the dead and is very sacred in honoring their lives. 

Schoolgirl / Cheerleader Costumes

Another category that should be avoided is the “sexy schoolgirl” and “sexy cheerleader” costumes. These costumes are just creepy. The sexualization of school uniforms and underaged girls isn’t a fun costume; it is quite frankly a little weird. Wearing a sexualized costume that is meant to represent minors or people in high school is not only creepy because it is meant to be a sexual representation of a young person, but it can also make actual children who wear those types of uniforms feel uncomfortable. Kids who have to wear those outfits to school because of the dress code may be afraid of being sexualized or at least just feel uneasy seeing that type of representation of what they have to wear on a daily basis.

Overall it’s just important to consider the history and implications of a costume before wearing it. If you have a specific costume in mind this season it may be a good idea to do some research, and see if it may be offensive or insensitive.