We are coming up to that time of year where almost everyone loves to dress up. Whether it’s for a party or for trick-or-treating, costumes are an integral part of Halloween. Traditionally costumes tend to be people’s favourite characters, think Disney princesses and superheroes or they would be paranormal creatures like witches or vampires, however now costumes are getting wackier and wackier.
Before I start to talk anymore about Halloween costumes, I suggest you check out these three Buzzfeed videos that inspired me to write this post today.
In these videos, people from three different cultures try on shop bought, premade Halloween costumes that are advertised as being from their culture, Overall the summary that the people trying on the costumes come to is that these costumes rely heavily on stereotypes which mean they can be offensive and sometimes racist.
Obviously the people designing the costumes did not mean for the costumes to come out this way and simply mean for them to be a bit of fun. The whole purpose of the costumes is to be something different that people get to wear on one night of the year.
When looking at whether or not these costumes qualify as disrespectful and offensive, there are two view points which can be taken. The first, is that of the people manufacturing the costumes and the people choosing to buy and wear them. Since very few people intend to be offensive, the assumption that can be made is that the designers have attempted to oversimplify an entire culture into one outfit, whilst also making it appealing to the Western market and failed. Clearly, when designers do this, they are not and they know they are not providing a full and accurate view on the culture, simply choosing to pick out the most popular bits. Therefore this means that whilst the costumes may not be accurate, they are not intended to be a history book or exhibit, they are just a bit of fun.
On the other hand, those belonging to the cultures that are being misrepresented in these Halloween costumes feel very differently. They feel that these costumes are making a joke out of values and cultures that are close to their heart and that other people don’t understand. As a privileged white girl living in the UK, I have been lucky enough to never experience such casual racism, meaning I can’t even begin to imagine the frustration and disappointment these people feel as their cultures are made into jokes. This is where the problem lies. These costumes are casual racism, Racism so ingrained into people’s everyday lives that people don’t know it’s there. To some people a Halloween costume may just be a bit of fun, but the people’s whose cultures are being made a joke, it is yet another sign of the constant and often unnoticed racism.
What do you think? Are these Halloween costumes offensive or just good fun?
I’d love to know what you think.