Cultural Appropriation 101: How to Avoid it on Halloween
With the recent transition into fall, October has finally begun, getting people everywhere excited about the long awaited “spooky-season”. The second the clock struck midnight on October 1st, the internet flooded with Halloween related memes and tweets, something that happens every year. Never a surprise – who wouldn’t love getting cozied up with a popular horror flick or decorating your home in fog of fake cobwebs and pumpkins? But, most importantly, the climax of October is when you can finally pull out your costumes and beautify yourself in the most outrageous manner possible. Halloween is, hands down, one of the most celebrated holidays in college (along with St. Patrick’s Day). It’s a time when everyone’s running to the mall, piecing together whatever they can for the lowest price whether for sexy or spooky.
Although choosing a Halloween costume may seem like a simple decision, more and more, people are being urged into thinking about what they wear. In recent years, there have been major issues of cultural appropriation in the fashion industry and media, making costume creating a risky business for those who don’t know the dos and donts. Unfortunately, many people are completely unaware of what cultural appropriation even is, and therefore are caught making bad fashion decisions without even realizing. According to dictionary.com, it is defined as, “the act of adopting elements of an outside, often minority culture, including knowledge, practices, and symbols, without understanding or respecting the original culture and context.” (https://www.dictionary.com/e/pop-culture/cultural-appropriation/) Examples of this often found on Halloween night are when people dress up as Native Americans, Geishas, Sugar Skulls and other Day of the Dead inspired outfits.
Again and again, people are found making crucial mistakes when it comes to what they see as “costumes”. Finally, the minorities who are having their cultures appropriated are standing up for themselves. Everyone deserves to be respected, and equally have their culture and beliefs be respected. Although these wishes are being heard more and more, the issue is yet to be fully resolved. When searching for your perfect Halloween costume this year, think about your fellow classmates and friends (especially the people you don’t even know), because no one’s culture should be considered a costume. If young people begin to educate themselves now, as well as the people around them, we can end the cycle of cultural appropriation on Halloween. On such an adored holiday, no one should be feeling uncomfortable, so stick with a look that will impress, but not oppress.