With Halloween right around the corner, it’s easy to want to break out the jack-o-lanterns and witch cauldrons as we don the spirit of Halloween. However, as social inequalities become more and more relevant, it’s important to make sure our Halloween rituals do not offend and or create unnecessary tensions. So, without further ado, here are 7 Do’s and Don’ts that will make this holiday exceptionally spook-tastic!
1. Do NOT EVER do blackface. Never, in any circumstance, is blackface makeup acceptable. To allude, Blackface refers to the makeup style in which a non-black person paints their skin to make themselves black. Historically, this practice started in the 19th century theatre community, where a predominantly white cast required a black role. Among other things, this creates an unfair stereotype of black people, which is entirely offensive. Many roles played by the blackface donned actors were degrading and one-sided—oftentimes slaves, plantation help, etc. This is one practice that needs to be left out of 2017!
2. Do NOT wear Native American; Latin American; or any other “Tribal” outfits. For whatever reason, it is becoming increasingly popular to appropriate other cultures’ apparel items, and it’s absolutely, positively, no Bueno (not good, for the ladies in the back, wearing their panchos and ‘authentic’ burlap dresses.) These are cultures, not costumes. Think about how you’d feel if people were dressing up like you—you’d almost feel like they were MaKiNg fUn Of YoU aNd YoUr FaShIoN cHoIcEs, huh?
3. Do NOT decorate with, or in any other format, desecrate calavera—sugar skulls. Calavera are representative of the Mexican tradition Dia de Los Muertos. This is a holiday that comes around the same time as Halloween, but as opposed to the sacrilegious American holiday that centers around candy, Dia de Los Muertos is a meaningful celebration of the dead. The purpose of the holiday is to celebrate loved ones that have passed and help them move on, and in general, show respect for them. In no way is decorating a pumpkin, or doing a makeup look representative of calavera respectful of those that have passed—so don’t do it!
4. Do NOT dress as the opposite sex… if Halloween is the one night of the year you would be comfortable doing so. Believe it or not, some people actually dress like this the other 364 days, and they don’t deserve to be seen in the same light as you and your cheap mop of a wig. What adds fuel behind hating this costume is the people that tend to wear them. Typically, overtly straight white men use this “costume”—and the stereotypes that come with it—as a joke; but it directly offends the LGBTQ communities, and we don’t appreciate having our livelihood mocked.
5. Do dress as your hero. This can be a superhero costume or a cosplay of sorts. Halloween is a great time to show appreciation for your childhood hero and revel in their glory. It’s also a time to reminisce and relive your youth. This is your one night of the year to nerd out as much as you’d like—don’t waste it!
6. Do be a pun. Okay, honestly. These are some of the most creative and funny costume ideas—and they’re only positive. Nobody is going to be offended by “universal healthcare” or “the Spice girls.” No sad reacts, only happy. This is what Halloween is supposed to be.
7. Do wear whatever you want! The wall separating gender into male and female is long dissolved, and with it go gender norms. The typical ‘girls dressing as princesses’ and ‘boys dressing as superheroes’ are being thrown out the window as society becomes more accepting and bears witness to gender equality. Feel empowered to wear a costume that you are comfortable in and that you want to be in. Cause you’re great!
At the end of the day, we can only control so much of what happens in and around our lives. One thing we can definitely control, however, is how we carry ourselves and the actions we choose to make. We can choose to offend people, or we can choose to correct our actions for the greater good. If while you’re creating your costume, you at any point question yourself as to whether it’s offensive, trust me, it probably is. Simple steps like raising cultural awareness can help to reduce unnecessary conflict and tension, which is what we all want—yes? So, just follow these simple Do’s and Don’ts, and hopefully we can grow towards a stronger community.