Ah, Halloween! The candy, the costumes, the… candy! It’s a truly enjoyable and wonderful holiday for young and old. But, of course, before you choose your costume, you absolutely must think carefully to make sure you don’t commit the ultimate Halloween faux pas of cultural appropriation. But, don’t worry, I’ve combed the internet and am now prepared to offer you these four handy tips (from real people really published on actual sites on the internet) for how to choose an acceptable Halloween costume.
1. From Susan Scafidi, author of Who Owns Culture: Appropriation and Authenticity in American Law: Determining “whether a particular costume constitutes cultural misappropriation should involve asking the source community.”
Thinking of dressing as Black Panther this Halloween but not sure if that’s cultural appropriation? No problem! Just fly to Wakanda (which doesn’t exist) and ask a Wakandan (who isn’t real). Piece of cake! Want to be Tiana (Disney’s first black princess)? Just head to New Orleans and seek out the community of women so desperate to open their own restaurants that they kissed a frog then turned into a frog then turned back into women and married a prince. They shouldn’t be too hard to find. Or, if that doesn’t work, you could just walk up to random black people on the street and see what they think. I’m sure they’ll all give you the same answer because, you know, all black people are the same and think the same thoughts and that’s not racist at all so… good luck!
2. From Kyli Rodriguez-Cayro of Bustle: “Not challenging your white friends when they’re being racist is a form of covert white supremacy.”
This important piece of advice often gets overlooked due to how insane it is but it’s worth remembering nonetheless because… something something something. Let’s break it down: a super-secret sect of white supremacists disguised as Halloween party-goers (disguised as all kinds of other things because it’s a Halloween party) is going around not calling people out for wearing costumes from other cultures. These covert white supremacist operatives can be distinguished from other party guests because everyone else will be yelling at everyone else and ripping each other’s costumes off in fits of Social Justice Warrior ecstasy while the covert white supremacists just sit there eating all the candy. Be warned!
3. From Chloe Metzger of Marie Claire: “Don’t dress up as a culture that’s not your own, or embody a cultural tradition that doesn’t belong to your heritage.”
Got that? Don’t dress up as a culture or a tradition. Choose a person, okay? And only pick a person who is from the exact same culture and heritage as you. So, if you want to dress as a Disney princess, for example, and you’re white, you obviously can’t dress as Moana, Tiana, Pocahontas, Jasmine, or Mulan — your skin’s not the same color as theirs and, obviously, their skin color is what defines them and makes them iconic characters beloved by little girls, so they’re out. But Snow White and Rapunzel are out too unless your German; Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Belle are no good unless you’re French; you can’t be Ariel unless you’re from Denmark; no Merida unless you’re Scottish; and Elsa and Anna are only for Norwegian people. Whoops! Disney costume sales just tanked. But, ah! Can’t you just smell the sanctimony!
4. From Jeffrey Browitt, associate professor in Latin American studies at the University of Technology Sydney: “The best rule of thumb is to play it safe, dress up as a witch or a goblin and leave the ethnic costumes to one side.”
I don’t know about this one. Perhaps Professor Browitt wasn’t aware of the totally legitimate and not at all laughable allegations of cultural appropriation from the witch community who feel that people are using witch culture for their own gains. Goblins, presumably, feel the same. As does Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy, and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. To be safe, it’s best not to dress as anything other than who you actually are. So, basically, no costumes at all. And probably no candy either unless it’s the same color you are. Because color is way more important than character… or, maybe I’ve got that backwards.