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Cultural Appropriation in Halloween Costumes

Nathan Yuan

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Cultural Appropriation In Halloween Costumes

By Nathan Yuan

October marks the long wait to Halloween for most middle schoolers.  While playing dress-up may be fun, the costumes that one wears can have a very harmful effect on cultural minorities.

Costumes that have religious or cultural ties can disturb peers and unsettle others in the community with other beliefs. There is an entire term dedicated to this problem- cultural appropriation.

Cultural appropriation ranges from wearing a Maui costume to wearing blackface. People could be hurt by a stereotype which negatively portrays them and their culture. For example, during Halloween, costumes like a lei and “Hawaiian shirt” could be interpreted as stereotypes of Hawaiian culture, which could offend natives. Teen Vogue made a video about such appropriation last year in 2017, calling it “Painful, dehumanizing attack[s] on their culture, their history, their very existence”.

Debate has almost always ensued after high-profile celebrities culturally appropriate others. After music icon Pharrell Williams wore a Native American headdress for a photo shoot with the magazine, Elle, people all around the world commented on his insensitivity, a Sioux Native American named Megan Red Shirt-Shaw reacted, “I would hope that you would want to be a symbol for something other than ignorance. Your music has been uplifting across all cultures around the world — but there is nothing uplifting about your cover with Elle.”

To make sure that a costume isn’t offensive, the Huffington Post’s Kadia Blagrove says, “When all else fails, just ask someone — preferably someone who isn’t too closely related to you — for their opinion. Consider what others may think of what you are about to share. Is this offensive or ill-informed? Given that I just discovered this trend or topic, am I still totally clueless?

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Cultural Appropriation in Halloween Costumes