by Abby Poulos
With Halloween recently passing comes talks of what is and what isn’t appropriate to wear as a costume. Although it seems pretty simple, it can turn into a complicated mess of what is appropriation and what isn’t, what is respectful and what isn’t, and what is offensive and what isn’t. While we are well aware to not dress as Native Americans for Halloween, a new discussion has come into play. A couple of Halloween stores have decided to put out an “Anne Frank” costume, retailed as well under the name “World War II Girl”. Although the costume is marketed as a heroin character, it is plain to see that this costume in insensitive, disrespectful, and offensive. If you are confused on why, I would recommend watching a vision of the Diary of Anne Frank (there is a really good one on Netflix). If you are still confused, here are some reasons why it should not be a halloween costume:
The premise of Halloween is that you get to dress up as something for one night, and then take it off the next morning. Although this is fun and all, it is a reason why you shouldn’t be dressing as Anne Frank. Anne Frank had to be Anne all the time, she had to deal with the problems of being a Jewish person in WWII, and she couldn’t change the reason why people discriminated and hated her. When someone puts on a costume of her, they aren’t also taking on the discrimination and hatred.
Many people like to argue that there is no difference between dressing as Anne or someone like a famous serial killer or celebrity. The main difference here is that Anne did not have a choice to be Anne. She didn’t choose to have a life of pain and suffering, she didn’t choose to be Jewish. Anyone of a different occupation, whether that either be a celebrity or anything else, had a choice to do what they were doing, and took on all of those negative effects consciously and with consent.
This costume is marketed towards children around the ages of 7-12. Even after learning about the holocaust in school, there is no way a someone could be able to comprehend or wrap their head around the holocaust, especially at a young age. This means that the costume is worn just as a fun thing, and not with knowledge or respect.
The costume was also marketed for a historical costume or costume for the actual production of The Diary of Anne Frank. Here is why that is a completely different situation from it being worn in the context for Halloween:
If someone is wearing it for a production of the Diary of Anne Frank, they are doing it with the upmost respect and knowledge. As I am in a production of The Diary of Anne Frank right now, I know from experience that there is a lot of research and dedication done towards the role. It is a very meticulous and careful process, and is all done towards honoring the memory and strength of Anne Frank and her family. Therefore, the costume is worn to tell her story and shed light on her and the holocaust, which is the correct context that this costume could be worn in.
Despite this, I believe it was the right choice for the companies to take down the costume.