Halloween is just around the corner, and it’s incredibly important to be mindful around this time of the year. It is not funny or ironic to dress up as a minority. With rising political tensions based on gender and cultural backgrounds, it’s important for one to be respectful.
Here are five things not to include in your costume, along with some hints to help you know whether or not your costume is going to get you labelled a dirtbag.
1. Race: If your costume idea requires you to change the colour of your skin, then it is a bad idea for a costume. “Blackface” or “redface” was not cool 50 years ago, and it makes you a dirtbag if you do it in 2017. There is no good way to go about changing your race in the Halloween season, or any season, and playing off stereotypical physical attributes of any race is problematic.
2. Cultural stereotypes: The most controversial costumes that you’ll come upon every year in those pop-up Halloween shops portray minority groups using stereotypes that have been applied to them for a long time.
This creates problematic costumes like the “Mexican Villager” or the “Native Princess.” These costumes are astonishingly offensive, and the latter is especially problematic for people living here in Treaty Six Territory.
3. Gender: This is mostly directed at cisgender men who are going to be dressing in drag for the Halloween season. Be mindful of how you feminize yourself, and if you are doing it, go all out! Wear the best makeup. Just avoid portraying some of the disgusting stereotypes that are sometimes applied to the trans community.
The offensive costume released by Spirit Halloween last year that depicted Caitlyn Jenner is an example of how not to portray trans people this year.
4. Controversial event: While you might think that your Harvey Weinstein costume is a great idea — or that your alt-right costume is just a satire of the current political climate — dressing like those people is problematic and can cause stress for those around you at various Halloween events. Just remember that you will attend events with people who may not have the same views or experiences that you have.
5. Sexiness + minority: Last year, there was a local controversy when activist Zoey Roe took Spirit Halloween to task about their “Native American” costume line. These costumes sexualize Indigenous peoples.
Ultimately, costumes like these only perpetuate and add to the history of oppression in our country — particularly highlighting the intersectional oppression that Indigenous women experienced during colonization, and arguably, still face today.
Just keep these things in mind, and you can avoid call-outs and retribution for dressing up in a costume that should be thrown in the trash. The Halloween season can be fun, so be creative and come up with a respectful costume.
Graphic: Lesia Karlash / Graphics Editor