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Halloween costumes: how far is too far?

With Halloween, we expect some of the most crazy and bizarre costumes that express the spirit on Oct. 31. However, there can be a few that take that spirit and festivities too far with those costumes, to the extent of being “inappropriate.”

When I saw the Oct. 20 article in the Huffington Post about an anonymous Reddit user posting a picture of himself dressing up as Ray Rice, dragging a blowup doll (intended to be his “wife” Janay Rice), I was appalled and disgusted. For someone to actually take a heated issue like domestic violence and make a costume and joke out of it, I couldn’t believe it.

In fact, there has been a disturbing trend of men on social media (specifically on Twitter and Instagram) dressing as the NFL player and using dolls to portray his wife. I even saw a picture on Twitter of a child dressed as Ray Rice in black makeup and a purple jersey, carrying a black doll around. It wasn’t just that a parent would let their CHILD dress up as Ray Rice, but the fact that someone painted their child’s face in black makeup (Blackface anyone?) to drive the point across that that child was Ray Rice was completely wrong.

These two incidents are ONLY the tip of the iceberg. A “sexy Ebola nurse,” a bloody tampon/pad, and a “child terrorist” with explosives across his chest are also some examples that have made my list of “Inappropriate Halloween Costumes Ever.” It’s endless.

Why is that people wear such costumes for Halloween? There are so many answers that I could get into, but I’ll list a few. Someone may want to look the best or “most bizarre” for Halloween. Some have intentions of being funny or clever. However, another question forms once these costumes are decided on: Since when did any of these issues or matters become a decent inspiration for costume choices? For someone to find a decent costume, maybe they can go to simpler and different choices, like a dinosaur or even a robot. 

Making fun of a controversial issue in your costume is not okay. Dressing as a mental health patient in a straitjacket or a human figuration of any mental health or psychological issue (i.e. “Anna Rexia”) is not okay. Putting on a sombrero, sari, headdress or any garment or style from a culture that you don’t understand or are not a part of is something that should be obviously understood as inappropriate. As a woman of color, I already see too much cultural appropriation happening every day in so many aspects. We shouldn’t push it any further on this particular day.

We must respect others and situations with such tangled, painful roots. Although there may be some people who will think I’m too sensitive with this topic, I have some questions for them: Has someone done something to offend you lately? What about ever? How about dress as something that is sacred, personal or just plain disturbing to you? If so, how did you feel? Because if you felt offended from that thought, imagine how these people must feel when you turn their culture or a serious subject matter into a costume.

Halloween’s another day for us to have fun and have a chance to become something outside of ourselves for those 24 hours with our costumes. However, once that costume reflects something that calls for hurt and anger from another, that’s when it goes too far. It’s inappropriate. Period, point-blank.