As a lover of all things spooky, I look forward to dressing up for Halloween each year. In anticipation of Oct. 31, I scour the internet for hours in search of Halloween costume ideas, and every year, without fail, I come across costumes that make me question my faith in humanity.
A couple of weeks ago, for instance, I saw a white woman on Pinterest dressed up as “sexy Pocahontas.” Yes, this was a real costume that someone wore loudly and proudly on the internet.
The offensive nature of this costume is obvious. It is one thing to dress up on Halloween as someone with a racial, ethnic or cultural identity that you do not share, but another to sexualize them in the process.
A CNN article depicted a similar problem in 2018 with a “sexy ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ costume” that Twitter users called out for being sexist and distasteful due to its blatant sexualization of a show about misogyny and rape culture.
Insensitive Halloween costumes are an issue that not enough people talk about around this time of year because they are too afraid of being mocked for their political correctness. Refusing to appropriate another culture, however, is not political correctness — it is basic human decency.
The racism, sexism, cultural appropriation, ableism, transphobia and fetishization we see in Halloween costumes is frequently watered down by people who do not want to be held accountable for their problematic behavior — but that does not make these issues any less prevalent.
I have a PSA, so listen up: By continuing to wear offensive Halloween costumes for your own amusement, you are playing an active role in the oppression of others.
There is nothing humorous about willingly upholding the racist, sexist, ableist, transphobic and culturally insensitive stereotypes that hinder minorities from receiving the same opportunities that you do, so please cut it out.
Wearing blackface is not “edgy.” Dressing up as a homeless person is not “amusing.” If a costume you want to wear might hurt someone (whether you intend for it to or not), then do not put it on. Yes, it is really that simple.
If you are unsure whether a costume you want to wear might be harmful to someone else, that is a good enough reason to give it some more thought, regardless of whether you think the costume is blatantly offensive or not.
As a child, I had no idea that some of the costumes I wanted to wear promoted offensive stereotypes about minority groups. In my mind, wearing the costume was a celebration of those communities — but I was wrong.
It is important for us to learn how to check our privilege when it comes to doing things as simple as picking out a Halloween costume. There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to look cute on Halloween, but is dressing up as “sexy Pocahontas” the way to go?
An article from the Washington Post points out that when it comes to checking our privilege on Halloween, we need to remember that cultures are not a costume. Trying to embody the lived experiences of others through dress-up is unnecessary, and often more offensive than it is supportive.