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Culture vs. Costume: Is your Halloween outfit a costume or cultural appropriation?

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Culture vs. Costume: Is your Halloween outfit a costume or cultural appropriation?

Tori Velazquez

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Halloween, one of the most beloved holidays, began from an ancient Celtic festival of Samhain where numerous of people lit bonfires and dressed up to ward themselves of ghosts. At this time, Halloween was known as All Hallows Eve. As years passed, though, Halloween has evolved in to one of the most anticipated holidays of the year as many families go trick-or-treating, carve pumpkins, and attend haunted houses or costume parties.

As we all know, dressing up had to be the best part; albeit, finding the perfect costume was one of the hardest decisions to make. With Halloween being today, everyone has already planned and orchestrated a visit to the nearest Halloween store to find that perfect costume. There is a growing debate around culture vs. costume that you may have come across on your Twitter or Facebook feeds that you’ll want to be aware of. The issue addresses whether some costumes are considered disrespectful towards different cultures. Some costumes that may appear acceptable may actually be offensive if they depict any kind of disrespect to certain cultures. While costumes traditionally have been selected based on personal interests like your favorite superhero, you may now come across costumes that make a political statement, whether it be intentional or not.

 

For example, a couple was shown on Twitter wearing a border patrol outfit and the wife was dressed up as if she just crossed the border and was in hand cuffs. This demonstrates an insensitivity to those whose lives are very much affected by the recent loss of DACA rights and belittles their circumstances. While it’s natural to justify these costume choices as all in good fun, remember that what can be funny to someone can be quite hurtful to another. Intent is not what matters, but rather the impact of one’s actions is what resonates. Still, some costumes may seem more obvious in their ignorance than others. For example, painting your face black to be an African American is offensive and marginalizes African-American culture.

 

While in my own opinion certain costumes don’t come to my attention as disrespectful, I do believe that there is a line that we should all take in consideration of and that comes along with how we act. It may be a preconception that dressing up for Halloween is all for fun, and that’s understandable and, as always, everyone will be entitled to their own opinion. But as you come different outlandish Halloween costumes across on the web, the controversy argument that presents itself every year continues to grow. In thinking of your costume for this Halloween or even for the next, it may be a considerate to ask yourself these questions:

Am I dressing outside of my race or religion?

Is my costume demeaning to racial or religious groups? Or even to those in the LGBTQ community?

If I were to go to a costume party or even trick or treating would I be ashamed if I were to see somebody belonging to a certain group?

 

About the Writer
Tori Velazquez, Author

Tori Velazquez is a senior at Lake Forest High School, actively participating in a numerous amount of clubs in LFHS. She has started a club called embRACE...

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Culture vs. Costume: Is your Halloween outfit a costume or cultural appropriation?