Halloween can be a fantastic time for those that celebrate it. While it’s geared towards children, adults fall into the fun as well! Costumes are sold online, in stores, in fact, there are even pop up Halloween stores specifically selling items for this one evening. While it can be fun to dress up as your favorite celebrity, movie character, childhood character, meme, and more and there are so many creative ways to construct a costume (or just buy one), you can take the fantasy too far.
Halloween has become associated with cultural appropriation because people may dress up in costumes, not knowing the history behind it. Worst of all, there seems to always be a case(s) of Blackface every year, which naturally let’s me know that Halloween is also a time that some choose to offend. In the age of Google, it’s hard for me to accept that someone just didn’t “know”. Doing the research on your costume and spending some time thinking about why you want to have this costume should lead you to know whether it’s a smart idea or not. People choose ignorance.
However, when will we acknowledge that our diction is more damaging than the costumes themselves? It comes out in marginalized communities like minorities and the obese. Growing up, I recall Black people saying, they were going to be the “Black version of Ariel” or “the Black Belle.” Yes, we have evolved and have our own Black princesses (shout out to Tiana), it still seems like a limitation for when we dress up for Halloween. We should just be able to imagine those characters in our own image, because for so long, we were ignored on the screen. Also, you can recreate a character without trying to recreate a race; you don’t see Black people powdering their faces, yet the need to create inclusion is heard clearly through the description.
We aren’t even having enough discussions around size in animation or representation in a positive light for the young and old alike. Jessica Rabbit was the “thickest” the community has gotten. We haven’t advanced far enough in our fight in diversity to where Disney has given us a voluptuous Princess, with roll and folds in all her glory. Thank goodness we have been graced with a real life BAP like Lizzo. Each year, plus size women are forced to create representation for themselves, we dress up as Tinkerbell’s and Mariah Carey‘s, Beyoncé‘s, Michelle Obama‘s, and Oprah‘s showcasing the power of plus size women within our superstars.
As we strive to be a more culturally aware society, Greek Goddesses become Goddesses, we dress up as skeletons and not Day of the Dead, and we don’t wear makeup from specific African origins in which we don’t identify. It’s not sensitive, it’s respectful and inclusive. Sometimes it’s not what we see and more so what we imply and our verbiage. By thinking more about what we say, how we say it, and how we describe our costumes, can speak volumes to communities that are normally affected by the thoughtlessness within the Halloween holiday.