Somebody’s Culture is Not Your Costume

Zaynab Kouatli, Opinion Editor

Well Wildcats, we are halfway through September. Everyone is putting pumpkins on their desks and digging out their sweaters. With spooky season right around the corner, I think we should start preparing for our Halloween costumes.  

I want to see some real creativity this time around. I’m sorry, but the sexy cop and promiscuous cat are getting a little overdone.  

However, there is an important question you need to ask when shopping for a Halloween costume: Is this costume somebody’s culture? I know Halloween is the time of the year where you can pretend to be anyone but let us avoid dressing up as something offensive. It is embarrassing! 

A cringe worthy costume I better not see this year is dressing up as a Native American. This costume is never done in good taste and continually perpetuates negative stereotypes toward Indigenous people. I have seen people wear faux buckskin, feather headdresses and braids, all of which hold a lot of spiritual meaning for indigenous people.  

Let’s avoid the Native American costume this year and all the years to come. Being indigenous is not something you can or should ever appropriate.  

If you are thinking about dressing up as a stoner or hippie this Halloween, make sure none of the elements of your costume come from another culture. The Bindi, a mark of protection worn by many Desi people, somehow always makes its way into the hippie attire.  

I know Bob Marley wore the Rasta hat and has dreads, but that does not mean you should incorporate it into your costume. News flash! Both the Rasta and dreads are part of Marley’s culture and are not symbols of the stoner agenda.  

Some of our biggest idols are people of color. Maybe you plan on dressing up as Kanye west or your favorite character from “Squid Game.” Regardless of who you choose to dress up as, avoid changing your skin color. This includes yellow face, brown face and black face.  

This Halloween, take a moment and ask yourself a couple questions. Does my costume contain any elements that come from another ethnicity, race or religion? Does my costume give proper representation to the person I am trying to represent? Will my costume offend or hurt someone by me wearing it?  

When shopping at Spirt Halloween or Party City, you will see a lot of cultural appropriation. I remember last year I saw “Mexican Man”, “Sexy Oriental”, “Belly Dancer”, “Gypsy” and so many more offensive representations of cultures.  

If you go down the questions I asked with these specific costumes, I am sure that you will come to the conclusion that they are offensive. A good rule of thumb, if the costume includes the title of an ethnicity or race, it is best to avoid it entirely. 

Dressing up for Halloween is fun but dressing up as somebody else’s culture is both hurtful and offensive. Racist ideology and harmful stereotypes are not what Halloween should be about. Enough cultural appropriation and remember somebody’s culture is not your costume!