Hand in hand with Halloween season comes the flood of social media posts and articles about the appropriation of cultures during the holiday. 

People have been fighting using someone else’s culture as a costume for a while, but it seems we’ve made no headway besides multitudes of heated discussions on online forums.

Just recently I went to a Spirit Halloween store. All of the stereotypical offensive costumes were broadly displayed on sale. I encountered all of the distasteful costumes we’ve come to know and dread; the Native American dresses, the gaudy gypsy swaths of fabric, geishas and Cleopatras. 

Cultural appropriation is when members of one culture adopt the practices of another, often disadvantaged minority cultures. Sometimes it happens unknowingly, but other times it can be done on purpose. 

A big trigger point for critics tends to be Halloween, when people dress up as figures or aspects from another culture for their own entertainment or for the entertainment of others. 

The line between which costumes are okay for the holiday and which ones aren’t can be hard to draw between age and how far someone takes it. 

Obviously, dressing up as a Native American is extremely distasteful, and it shouldn’t be debated about whether or not it’s okay, but are little children not allowed to dress up as characters from their favorite movies, such as Moana and Aladdin? 

“Moana costumes have been fiercely debated since the movie’s 2016 debut,” cited USA Today in an article about the popular issue. It continued to state that Auli’i Cravalho, the actress who voiced the Disney character, said that she has no problem with children of all ethnicities dressing up as Moana for the holiday. 

The children shouldn’t have a need to paint their faces a different color for their Halloween costumes, and if they do, that problem lies more with the parents for allowing that to slide in today’s society than with the children. 

I believe that all children should be able to dress up as whoever they want, without the fear of retribution, as long as the costume does not cross any obvious lines and parents exercise basic caution and regulation. 

This costume debate obviously gets more complicated as you get older. No one is going to hold your hand anymore and dismiss distasteful mistakes you might make with your costumes; you’re going to be held accountable. 

In short, just use common sense while picking out your costume for this year’s festivities. Don’t choose something you know you will regret, or will make others upset. 

It shouldn’t be too hard to have a good time and not hurt some else’s feelings.


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