Halloween costumes: Scary for the wrong reasons

Despite what Halloween costumes may lead you to believe, Native Americans are not uncivilized, Mexicans are not for your entertainment and women are not sex objects. Halloween costume companies will sexualize or stereotype anything in order to make it sell. Cultural appropriation and sexism have become unavoidably present in Halloween costumes, and it needs to stop.

Cultural appreciation becomes appropriation when the wearer misrepresents and trivializes the race or culture. Making a culture sexy or perpetuating stereotypes resides in the category of appropriation. When persons of a culture wear their traditional dress, people often ridicule them, but when other cultures wear the same thing, they get called fashionable or entertaining. This double standard is the reason why cultural appropriation has permeated our nation and desensitized its citizens. Usually stemming from ignorance, these costumes contribute to a society laden with racism.

Sexy, uncivilized, drunk: all three are staple features of the Native American Halloween get-up. All three are insulting stereotypes, whether Halloween enthusiasts care to admit it or not. Native Americans are not a trend or fashion statement. The Halloween costumes simplify and degrade the meaning of their culture and traditions. Costumes on www.halloweencostumes.com such as Sexy Tribal Native or Drunk Indian create an untrue version of what it means to be Native American. Their history is not a costume. To represent Natives’ culture in derogatory costumes sends the message that it’s okay to invalidate their heritage.

People try to ridicule the Mexican culture by dressing up as their stereotypes, further reinforcing xenophobia in our society. People dress as Mariachi bands, wear sombreros with oversized mustaches and even wear the Mexican flag in a promiscuous dress. Costumes following this theme allow racism to flourish where it should’ve been halted. They serve no other purpose besides poking fun at Mexican culture. Typically out of ignorance, people adorn themselves with sugar skull costumes and celebratory outfits for Day of the Dead. This holiday is deeply tied into Mexican culture to honor those who have passed away. This celebration is defaced by others, taking away it’s actual purpose. Trying to turn Day of the Dead into something it’s not is disrespectful and unfair to those who celebrate it.

Although Halloween is not related to Day of the Dead, it still holds religious value to Catholics. Halloween is a holy day also known as All Hallows’ Eve, which celebrates All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1st). Considering that Halloween is a Catholic holiday, a Naughty Nun outfit is extremely crude. This shows how corrupt our understanding of Halloween is. An attempt to find humor in sexualizing a religion exemplifies how misleading our interpretation of Halloween is.

Halloween costumes oversexualize everything about women’s appearances. An online Halloween costume shop displays a Women’s American Beauty costume as being dressed in a skin tight bodysuit and modeled by a blonde haired, blue eyed woman. America is a variety of different traits  that cannot be branded. To try and tell people what the American Beauty image should look like, sends a biased message that encourages stereotypes in our society. Why should women have to be dressed in tight clothing to be considered beautiful? Why was it a blonde woman with blue eyes to display the costume? Perhaps unintentionally, but not so discreetly, this Halloween costume represents the typical ignorance of America.

Furthermore, Halloween’s obsession with sex appeal has reached a ridiculous extent. Costumes like Sexy Goldfish or Sexy Squirrel are completely unnecessary, yet, similar costumes litter the stores. When young girls see that all the costumes come at the expense of her body, the misogynistic ideology that women are nothing more than their bodies is perpetuated and instilled.

Many people have justified cultural appropriation and oversexualized Halloween costumes by saying they look cute or that it’s for fun. However, you cannot just pick the parts you like in a culture, and neglect the other traditions and customs that come alongside. Halloween costumes takes one aspect of a culture and twist it into something completely different. This leads to misrepresentation of the minority groups’ heritage. Oversexualizing Halloween costumes tells women that they have to wear these provocative costumes in order to feel attractive or of value. The circumstances change if they want to wear it for themselves, but society’s pressure to dress a certain way is misogyny. Halloween was once a holiday of fun and fright, but it now has been manufactured into a racist and sexist sentiment.

There is still an abundance of Halloween costumes that aren’t offensive. Choose one of those.

Graphic by Alyssa Boedigheimer/Prowler