by Emily Wilson and Neige DeAngelis

Culture Appropriation vs. Appreciation

As Halloween draws closer, we are constantly trying to come up with amazing costume ideas. It is our chance to be recognized for wearing something cool and crazy. However, as more pop-up Halloween stores are appearing, the issue of cultural appropriation is once again at the forefront of our minds, yet many people are unclear on what exactly cultural appropriation is.

Cultural appropriation can mean many different things in many different contexts. Generally, it is the use of a culture in harmful, demeaning, or unacceptable ways. But when something as innocent as wearing a Disney princess dress is labelled as cultural appropriation, the options begin to seem quite limited. So, where is the divide between appropriating and appreciating a culture?

A common example of cultural appropriation is wearing something without regard toward the meaning behind it. For instance, contrary to what many may believe, the Day of the Dead is not the Mexican version of Halloween. In fact, the holiday differs greatly from our night of horror movies and spooky costumes. The Day of the Dead is a time to honor, respect, and remember deceased loved ones. Therefore, when someone wears a costume from The Book of Life or Coco, it is seen as degrading the cultural significance of the holiday.

In addition, there are numerous other reasons why costumes can be considered inappropriate. Historically, there are many ‘power dynamics’ between an oppressive and oppressed group. For the minority, seeing a member of the dominant group dress up and stereotype their culture is like a slap in the face. It is unfair and inhumane to compliment one person for wearing the very things that another was persecuted for.

As we now know, it is very easy to cross the line into appropriating, rather than appreciating, a culture. We see these mistakes in greater magnitude during Halloween because, compared to other popular holidays, it is much more of an
“anything goes” type of event. However, many insist that by borrowing aspects of another culture, they are showing acceptance and supporting a more inclusive society. So, by allowing future generations to express themselves as whoever and whatever they want, are we taking a step forward or back?

However, as we near Halloween, it is important that our worries do not tamper with the sugar-filled spirit of the holiday. For instance, are we taking it too far by accusing a young girl of cultural appropriation if they dress up as a princess of a different race. Perhaps we should take a moment to recognize that by acknowledging and caring about these issues, we are taking our own steps toward improving upon them. So, although our stomachs are a wreck the next day, we should do ourselves and each other a favor by playing our costumes safe, and allowing everyone to enjoy Halloween.

Fun Halloween Costumes!

Here are some fun costume ideas that are family friendly! The categories are: group costumes, couples costumes, complicated costumes, little kid costumes, and pet costumes. Hope this helps you have a super fun halloween!

Group costumes! You can do these with your group of friends, your siblings, or your family! For most of these, you can do as many people as you want because the number of people isn’t important. These are fun because you can make the costumes together with your friends/family too if you want!

Pictured: peppers (1st), hydroflasks (2nd), and mean girls (3rd),

Couples costumes! These are all super cute, and they’re good because they directly go together, so people won’t be confused.

Pictured: avocado toast (1st), pb&j (2nd), oreo (3rd), thing1/thing2 (4th)

Complicated costumes! If you want to show off your costume skills (and don’t mind looking a little bit nerdy) you can make one of these! It can be super fun to make costumes together with your friends, so you can do that too!

Pictured: cereal (1st), rain cloud (2nd), cotton candy (3rd)

Little kid costumes! If you have little siblings who are asking you what they should dress up as, here is your answer! You can even help them make some of these!

Pictured: jelly beans (1st), coffee (2nd), dobby (3rd), minion (4th)

Pet costumes! Most of these can work for cats or dogs, and they’re all ADORABLE! Also, I made sure to pick mostly costumes that are easy to make/buy, so NO EXCUSES! 😀

Pictured: pineapple (1st), little red riding hood (2nd), oreo (3rd), loofah (4th)