Too many Halloween costumes go from inappropriate to insulting

Taylor Campbell and Copy Editor

Halloween is pictured as a holiday for fun. There is not exactly a purpose other than pass out candy, dress up in costumes, and above all, enjoy the night. But who exactly is having the fun? When does the humor in costumes cross the line into more serious offenses?

Previously aimed toward the child demographic, Halloween has grown to include the elders of society. Not only does that mean more gore and violence, but of course the inevitable sexualization of the holiday. When one peruses the Party City catalogue during this season, it is obvious to notice the hoard of lingerie labeled as women’s costumes. Men are given a variety of outfits to choose from whether they are comedic, scary, or a little risqué. However, women are given one choice: sexy! A double-standard such as this is undeniable.

Sex sells. It’s an obvious tactic used by companies during the season. The problem is that it is the most marketed ensemble available to women. There is absolutely nothing wrong with exploring ones sexuality and embracing their physical assets, but Halloween supports the notion that women are an object, and are put on display for the public to gawk at and judge. So if a woman chooses not to wear a sexy outfit, she is considered a prude. If she does wear it, she is considered a tramp. Men are rewarded for exhibiting originality in their garments while women are rewarded for exhibiting skin. From Sexy Big Bird to the Sexy Ebola Nurse costume, no costume is safe. Halloween’s growing sexism trend has even began reaching toddlers with Walmart’s Naughty Leopard costume, as reported by

Objectification continues with the short spectrum of costumes available to girls and women. Princesses are the norm until a girl hits her teenage years, when bare skin is a regular feature. There a little to no funny, heroic, and especially not scary, costumes available. If there are any, they are destined to leave little to the imagination. Leaving little space for women to grow and express themselves only degrades them, and Halloween, in general, dehumanizes a large demographic, not only in gender, but race as well.

Cultural appropriation, is taking a culture, race, or ethnicity’s qualities, that do not normally belong to you, and claim them as your own. This is practiced frequently during Halloween when people dress up as racially-based costumes. What happens is that minority cultures become somewhat of a palette for the majority to choose from and play dress-up with. Most people do not realize that this is happening because they are the ones with privilege in said society. Temporarily claiming a culture as your own, without facing their challenges within a society where hierarchy is present, is cultural appropriation and is racist.

Most who commit offences of racism during Halloween, usually do not even notice. An example is the growing trend of men and women dressing as Ray Rice and Janay Palmer. Costume-wearers are often depicted as recreating Rice’s attack on Palmer. It’s already an issue in itself as people laugh at the site of a woman being beaten, thus enforcing the thought that women are objects who need to be put in their place. But because Rice is African American, people assume all African Americans are abusive towards their loved ones, which is far from the truth.With that being said, anything with thug, gangster, immigrant, native, or Oriental, for example, are most likely a racist costumes, tainting the good name of a culture with stereotypes.

Having an acquaintance of the race you plan to impersonate this Halloween does not excuse your costume. Dressing up as a Sexy Geisha or Mexican Serape does not pay respects to a culture. If you want to learn about a culture or pay dues, go to the library, travel and live with the culture, do not dress up as them in a humorous manner for one night. It was bad enough hypersexualization is often seen in women’s costumes, but it also carries into any racial based costume. Non-white cultures are seen as exotic but they are more than just “eye candy”. They are people.

All of this is not to discourage people from participate in dressing up for Halloween, but there are so many costumes to choose from that do not perpetuate dehumanization of women or stereotypes among minorities. When you dress up including the features of a culture in a humorous manner and you know nothing about their history or their trials, you welcome aggressive attitudes the other 364 days of the year for said culture. Most do not think about the effects of their costume because they do not affect them normally. In western society, whiteness equates normality and submissive females are standard, so anyone outside of that category is considered exotic, foreign, weird, or joke-worthy. That is reinforced with Halloween costumes. Racism and sexism are about oppression, not hurt feelings. People do not choose to be offended by your offensive costume, you are just being offensive. Educate yourself, be part of the solution and not the problem.