Halloween weekend is almost upon us, but it’s important to remember what costumes are actual costumes and not just caricatures of an actual people.
Native Americans, Latinx, Asian, Middle Eastern — these are just a few of the types of racist caricatures that are used under the guise of “costumes.”
Recent years have seen an outcry against these types of costumes, but companies still put out these costumes each year. Party City, a major retailor for Halloween costumes, has its own fair share of these costumes. On its website, it has the “Rising Sun Princess” costume which features fringe, beads and feathers on a short, sexualized dress.
Costumes also commercialize and whitewash Día de los Muertos, an important holiday in Latinx culture. There are also “Witch Doctor” costumes with feathers, braids, face painting and skulls on sticks, and “Gypsy” costumes, which is a slur towards the Romani people.
And these are just the ones found on the website’s “International” section of the women’s costumes. The men’s section featured even more offensive costumes.
Four separate costumes featuring sombreros, serapes and mustaches — one even called the “Tequila Bandito costume,” which had, you guessed it, faux bottles of tequila. The “Sahara Prince” costume is a full Middle Eastern caricature. And, let’s not forget the “Jamaican Bobsled Team” costume, which shows a white model wearing the costume.
Why would anyone want to be a racist caricature for Halloween when you can go as a Bob Ross painting? No, seriously. That’s an option.
Racist Halloween costumes don’t just stop at store bought ones. Blackface is a common racist and historically insensitive caricature of African Americans. It first gained popularity in the 19th century and perpetualized the racist stereotypes surrounding African Americans. The practice is still used today for Halloween costumes, claiming it is just a costume despite these origins.
Offensive costumes are not just racist ones either. Earlier this month, an Anne Frank costume was pulled off the shelves. A company seriously thought an Anne Frank costume was appropriate. Then again, these are the same companies that benefit from racist costumes.
Nazi uniforms and Adolf Hitler costumes have been a popular costume for years, which is still baffling as to why anyone would want to dress up like those who perpetrated a mass genocide of a people.
Let’s not forget the transphobic 2015 “Call me Caitlyn” costumes that mocked Caitlyn Jenner after she came out as being transgender, as well as costumes of her pre-transition in the 1970s as an Olympic athlete.
Instead of wearing a costume that might get you punched in a bar and make you lose all credibility with your peers, wear a costume from your favorite television show, movie or something that isn’t mocking another culture.
Halloween is meant to be fun and light hearted, not another day for cultures to be appropriated for a few bad laughs. Seriously, that Bob Ross painting costume would give people a bigger laugh than another racist sombrero and serape costume.