A culture is not a Halloween costume

Tea Wheat , Entertainment Writer

As Spooky Season continues on strong, we are rolling around to when many different costume contests or other seasonal festivities will take place. One thing many consider during this time is, what should my costume be this year? Maybe you want to be awarded the scariest costume, maybe the funniest costume or maybe you are going for the best overall costume. No matter what costume look you are trying to go with, there is one thing you need to take into consideration: are you taking part in cultural appropriation through your costume? I urge you to dive deeper into your own costume, and to evaluate if it is a costume that should even be worn for these festivities.

This time of year is when cultural appropriation tends to be at an all-time high. Many people adapt others cultures and beliefs into costumes or ‘fun events.’According to the Oxford Dictionary, cultural appropriation, also called cultural misappropriation, is “the unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas, ect. Of one people or society by members of another and typically more dominant people or society.”

During the infamous spooky season, when many want to dress up, there are some tell-tale costumes to avoid and some important ways that you can avoid cultural appropriation this year. Some common costumes that, unless you belong to the designated culture, are never okay include a Native American Princess, “Gypsy,” ninja, a “voodoo” witch doctor and anything that may relate to Day of the Dead. It is important to note that these costumes are typically based on stereotypes of various cultures and that those who do not belong to these individual cultures should not dress up in these costumes.

So, how can you avoid cultural appropriation this season? I would recommend asking yourself the following questions about your intended costume. Is the costume supposed to be funny? If so is the humor based on making fun of real people, human traits or cultural communities? Does the costume represent a community or culture that is not your own? Does this costume reduce cultural differences to jokes or stereotypes? Does the costume perpetuate and reinforce stereotypes? Does the costume clothing have packaging that includes the words “traditional,” “ethnic,” “colonial” or “tribal?” These are great questions that can help guide you to the right costume this season. The tell-tale way is that if your costume is of another culture that is not one you identify with, you probably shouldn’t wear it! Additionally, if your costume is intended to be funny based off of cultural differences or stereotypes, you should probably find something else to wear.

The best way to avoid cultural appropriation year-round is to educate yourself. Take the time to talk with others and to learn more about different cultures that are not known to you. Additionally, keep in mind to work to educate not only yourself but also others. Hold yourself, and those around you, to a standard that is above cultural appropriation.