By Andronica Owens
Blog Content Contributor
It’s been a busy October, but Halloween is around the corner and people are ready to celebrate. It’s time for candy, haunted houses and of course, dressing up in costumes. This is a good time to show off your creativity with the costumes and makeup, but it’s also a risky time because of appropriation.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines cultural appropriation as “the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture.” This is taking pieces of culture and using them in a possibly offensive way due to lack of knowledge.
This may not seem like it could be a problem, but in recent years Halloween has been a time filled with misleading representations of different cultures through costumes. Many of the problems surrounding the negative reactions against the misleading representations come from the costumes being over-sexualized, historically incorrect or racist.
Social media has become a big factor with regards to appropriation in general. It has caused more people to speak out against how popular it has become to incorrectly use someone else’s culture as a joke or as a way to get likes on social media. Many people faced the backlash of this in recent years when the “my culture is not your costume” campaign took off.
With that being said, there are ways to avoid being offensive and insensitive while still having a good time this Halloween. If you’re struggling with coming up with a last- minute costume that will look good and hopefully not cost too much money, here are tips on how to accomplish that.
Try to create a costume based on popular culture. Put together some theme outfits of characters from TV shows or movies. You can also find inspiration from music artists and other public figures. Most times people will recognize the reference and laugh or compliment you. Thinking outside the box catches people’s attention just as quickly as appropriation.
Use the resources and skills you have. Instead of buying an entire costume and spending money on something you’ll wear for a few hours, find a way to make the costume. If you can sew, do makeup, paint, or glue things together you have the skills needed to create something amazing. Look through your closet and create something from the things you already own. Being original is always the way to go.
Social media is prominent in most places, so use it to your advantage. Recreate memes or vines or funny YouTube videos. If someone doesn’t understand the reference, then you have a great conversation starter.
If you do choose to recreate something with a historical impact, be sure to do your research. Don’t alter it too much to be an over-sexualized or inaccurate representation of an important part of another culture. There are ways to be appreciative and not offensive.
After you’ve done your research and rummaged through your closet, do some self-reflection before committing to a costume idea. Ask yourself “would someone find this offensive?” or “does it look like I’m making fun of someone?” If you have to stop and think about this, then the answer is probably yes.
Have fun this Halloween! Let the creative energy flow through your veins and showcase your skills. Be a trend setter, not a hashtag.
Featured Image by Andronica Owens.