Appropriation can be avoided on Halloween

Think twice before choosing a costume that represents a culture one is not a part of

Cultural approriation is most prevalent in the days leading up to Halloween, where people are choosing costumes for trick-or-treating. Instead of sticking to the normal ghosts and vampires, many choose to pretend to be another culture.

Any costume that isn’t directly correlated with one’s culture should not be worn. Growing up Latina, I had my own traditions and customs, which are a part of my identity.

Planning ahead for a Halloween costume is exciting and gives people something to look forward to. However, there is a fine line between appreciating a culture and appropriating it.

Appreciating a culture is when an individual takes the time to research and learn about a certain custom, hairstyle, type of dress and other aspects. On the other end, a well known definition of appropriating is to inherently find one aspect of a culture and marking it as “trendy” and taking it on as your own, when you are from a completely different culture.

There is no clear textbook definition or guide to abide by when choosing a Halloween costume.

A appropriated “costume” minimizes a culture with a rich history and special customs to a watered down colonized version.

Although I am not Mexican, I am disappointed that stores would allow garments that mock that special holiday and other costumes that label Latinx people as drunkards.

A “Day of the Dead Senorita Costume” is an actual title of a garment for women on an online Halloween site. The Mexican holiday, “Día de los Muertos,” also known as Day of the Dead in the United States, is reduced to a bodysuit with the appearance of a candy skull stamped with a flashing price tag. The Mexican holiday is meant to highlight the life of those loved ones who have passed and it is traditional to decorate burials with bright colors, photographs, candles and an ample amount of food.

Race and ethnicity play a significant role in defining cultural appropriation. In those aspects, an individual is able to connect with one’s culture and identity. No, appropriating is not about being “politically correct.” It is about supporting someone else’s identity and not diminishing it to a night of dress up. By choosing to purchase and wear an outfit that imitates a culture that one doesn’t know about further perpetuates racial stereotypes.

The term “gypsy” refers to a member of a nomadic people based on trading and fortune telling. The language the gypsies spoke, Romani, is believed to have originated in South Asia. Meanwhile an “Adult Gypsy Costume” can be purchased easily.

One should think before putting on blackface if one is white or non-black person of color. Blackface is makeup used by a non-black individual to mimic a black person or character. Blackface is a form of racism, whether or not it is intentional. Checking one’s privilege is critical.

Costumes like these should not be sold. It is disrespectful to think of any culture, especially their form of dress, as a costume that anyone can tote around in for a night.

Halloween is a night to have fun but it is crucial to do so in a manner where your outfit isn’t insensitive.

Before choosing a costume, do a little research.