Leading up to this year’s Halloween, the news has been obsessed with controversial costumes. I wish I were joking about the following costumes that have garnered well-deserved negative attention. Julianne Hough has been lambasted for her blackface costume depicting an African American character from the show “Orange is the New Black.” Halloweenparty13.com has been heavily criticized for selling a women’s costume consisting of a black dress with a skeleton print, called “Anna Rexia.” It comes with a measuring tape belt and the description, “You can never be too rich or too thin.” Hang on, it gets better. Two teens decided to dress up as Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman and had the audacity to post pictures of it complete with a blackface Trayvon Martin with blood spattered on a hoodie.
These costumes are not only appalling, but they aren’t funny. Nothing is clever or cool about marginalizing, mocking or making fun of others. Halloween is for fun and togetherness during the fall season, not being offensive. Halloween has had enough controversy as it is. Some Fundamentalist Christians still misunderstand the spirit of the holiday and think it’s a satanic celebration. Parents have to check their children’s candy for razor blades and needles. And of course, we all talk about the costumes that are so skimpy and sexualized that they make the wearers look like they thought they were headed to a porno audition and just ended up at a Halloween party. So this year, give Halloween a little bit of a break. The last thing the holiday needs is bigotry and narrow-mindedness.
If you do plan on depicting someone from another race, there are ways to indicate that you are that person other than painting your skin another color. Blackface in particular has a history of being used to stereotype and negatively characterize African Americans. Is there one day a year where it is ok to use the N-word? No, so just because it is Halloween does not mean it is ok to use blackface.
Bottom line is, if you have to even question yourself if your costume will offend someone it probably will, so don’t wear it. If you want to frighten people this Halloween, do it the right way.