What Not to Wear


Spooky season is upon us which means haunted houses, candy and parties. For most, if not all of these events, attendees will probably wear costumes. 

Halloween can be a fun time to dress up; however, it is also a time when poor judgment and ignorance can lead to offensive costumes. 

Cultural appropriation exists in many aspects of our daily lives, but during the Halloween season, we tend to see the most blatant and disrespectful examples. 

Before going out to celebrate Halloween, take a minute to check if your costume is appropriate.

Here are some quick guidelines to follow to avoid offensive costumes: 

  • Don’t wear makeup or designs on your face or any part of your body that would make you appear to be a part of a marginalized group that is not your own. This includes religious makeup or symbols, blackface, brownface, redface and even excessive use of bronzer. 
  • Don’t tokenize (only include a minority group just to say you did), mock or imitate aspects of marginalized groups, for example, Native American headwear or candy skulls symbolic of Day of the Dead.
  • Don’t dress as a stereotype based on how a group may be represented in media or based on any personal stereotypes. 
  • Don’t mock real-life events such as violent crime, human suffering or any other situation that has caused pain. This includes shootings, pedophilia, any Harvey Weinstein joke or Hugh Heffner/playboy mansion. 
  • Don’t dress as a Nazi, a member of the KKK or any other hate group. 
  • Don’t dress as religious or cultural figures that may be offensive. 
  • Don’t dress as a person from a culture, race or ethnicity you are not a part of even if you're not doing blackface, brownface, etc...White people have enough superheroes, presidents, princesses and cartoon characters. White people shouldn’t whitewash.
  • Don’t dress up as inmates or police.

Even if you think you are appreciating the culture, there is no way that on Halloween, a night full of partying, you will be portraying what you are wearing in a respectful manner. 

Hold each other accountable. If you see someone doing something that crosses a line, address the situation. It takes five seconds, and no, your friend won’t hate you.

If you are even questioning whether or not your costume is offensive or inappropriate, don’t wear it.