October 9, 2010

Culturally Insensitive Halloween Costumes

Store bought Halloween costumes are a nightmare, and I don't mean that in the spooky, trick-or-treat sense of the word. Literally, if there is an industry that is more sexist, more offensive, and less culturally sensitive than that which produces Halloween garb, I have yet to discover it. I'm not going to harp on the fact that Halloween has just become an opportunity for people to dress in as little clothing as possible. To be honest, Mean Girls expressed the sentiment better in saying, "Halloween is the one night of the year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it." Furthermore, I'm not one to dictate how an adult woman should dress. If dressing like a Sexy Sailor/Bumble Bee/George Washington is what makes you feel attractive, by all means carry on. Choose your choice girlfran! I've chosen mine (it does not include lucite heels, nor a polyester corset and animal ears).

What does continually irritate me, though, is that the Halloween costume industry is one of the last places where it is still entirely acceptable to be culturally intolerant and willfully ignorant. Consider for instance, the large number of ethnicity/heritage based costumes. These costumes essentially caricature a culture, playing up one element that usually does not represent the culture as a whole. Furthermore, manufacturers totally trivialize/sexualize the cultures in question, making costumes that are tight, tiny, and pay little homage to the clothes they are actually attempting to mimic. Or maybe I'm totally off base; perhaps there was an era in history in which all cultures adopted thigh highs with bows and fishnets.

Here are some pictures of ethnicity/heritage based halloween costumes, as compared to the actual traditional dress of the culture they aim to "represent."

Native American
Left to right: Native American woman in traditional dress, Sexy Native American Indian costume, Sexy Indian costume, Cherokee Teen costume
Not pictured: Pocahottie Pow-wow Costume

"Gypsy" (presumably Romani?)
L to R: modern Romani woman, Crystal Ball Gypsy costume, Gypsy Princess Tween

German/Oktoberfest

L to R: Oktoberfest waitresses 1928, Oktoberfest Girl costume, Lil' Miss Lederhosen costume, Swiss Hottie costume

Mexico
L to R: Man in traditional Mexican national costume, Sexy Shooter costume

Eskimo
L to R: Eskimo Cutie costume, Inuit woman

India
L to R: Modern woman in a sari, Taj My Hall costume (I could not make up that title if i tried)

Japan

L to R: Sexy Geisha Girl costume, Dragon Geisha costume, Playboy Geisha costume
Not pictured: Saki 2 Me costume, Sake Sweetie costume, Kimono Cutie costume

There were dozens of more costumes on Spirit Halloween that probably could as qualified as culturally insensitive, but I gave people the benefit of the doubt that they wanted to be a saucy Marie Antoinette or Greek Goddess out of historical interest.

Edited to add: Great discussion in the comments going on regarding weather or not it is backwards to compare these costumes to traditional dress at all.

310 comments:

  1. http://womensglib.wordpress.com/2010/09/28/epic-fail-halloween-edition/

    I wrote about this a couple of weeks ago. What's really disturbing is that Victoria's Secret and Frederick's both have racist costumes on their website, and are mainstream retailers, not just seasonal costume brands. Ugh.

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  2. Other examples:

    Scotland, "Scottish costume": http://www.yandy.com/Scottish-Babe-Costume.php
    Mexico, "Adult Sexy Serape Costume": http://www.yandy.com/Adult-Sexy-Serape-Costume.php
    Spain, "Sexy Matador Costume": http://www.yandy.com/Bulls-Eye.php
    China, "Sexy Beijing Babe Costume": http://www.yandy.com/China-Doll-Costume.php
    Ireland, "Luck Be A Lady Costume": http://www.yandy.com/Luck-Be-A-Lady-Costume.php

    I'm with you, this is infuriating. Blackface is taboo, but this is okay? Come on.

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  3. Those stilettos would be totally impractical while hunting buffalo across the plains.

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  4. Don't forget all those "Egyptian" costumes!

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  5. Then there's the medieval dress I wore for Flashback Day (Spirit Week) last year, which covers more of my body than any other piece of clothing I own, and is the only item I've ever been told I look sexy in.
    But other than that...yes it is (the most infuriatingly sexist and culturally insensitive industry).

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  6. Cultural appropriation at its finest. -_-

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  7. As a Mexican American, I don't think any of these costumes are racist or insensitive. They're just ethnically-inspired hoochie mama get-ups for women who want to show off as much skin as possible and are either A) hoochie mamas already or B) regular women think it's okay to look like a hoochie mama once a year.

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  8. Rule of thumb: don't dress up like someone else's life.

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  9. You're missing the point!

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  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  11. If you paid us a visit, we'd be happy to sell you piles of tacky rubbish like this, in souvener stores not very different from the ones in Washington DC. We are not children you know.

    Let me fill you in on a few things that are actually offensive:

    ~ Being patronisingly considered a delicate ethnic flower, clinging desperately to an insular past, whose heart will be shattered into a million parts by a Halloween costume. Do you think we don't have costume parties FFS? I wore a little cowgirl dress to a party once, does that offend you? And what's with the old black and white photos? Do you think we're all living in the 40s? We are not damn Navi!

    ~ Concern-trolls leaping up to defend us. Thanks, we don't need your help for stuff like this. There's plenty useful things you could do instead. You could write a letter to the French embassy protesting at the deportation of Roma if you care about feelings.

    ~ American movies. WTF Hollywood!? All the really offensive stereotypes are there. Have you ever tried watching Hellboy II with a German? Or Titanic with an Irish? Or just about anything with a Brit (they are always the bad guys).

    I'm sorry to blow up, I am a fan, but this is too patronising.

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  12. By largely using historical examples of traditional dress you are insinuating that people from this ethnicity group are incapable of changing, and are frozen in the past. This romanticizes them instead of humanizing them. I approve of your message but you need to think through your examples.

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  13. I tried to pick examples that most similarly coincided with the outfits pictured. My intention was not to be patronizing, but to show how by sexualizing national costumes it's a disrespect. I indicated in the captions whether or not the photo was of modern origin as an explicit attempt to make it known that cultures are NOT stuck in the 1940s, as you say.

    I'm not making some bleeding-heart attempt to protect "delicate ethnic flowers," but to point out a prevalent trend in American culture that I personally see as troublesome. Your post raises some interesting (and important) questions. I'd love to see it presented without all of the confrontational snark next time. I'm big on two-sided discourse, but it's difficult to conduct through name calling like "concern-trolls."

    That said, I am sorry if you misinterpreted my intentions and were offended.

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  14. I agree with you. I don't generally support over sexualizing anything though. I think it is pretty disrespectful, maybe not to modern day cultures (i'll give anonymous that argument) but to the past cultures it is.

    My mom and I were talking about how unfortunate it is that Americans do not have any important or definite traditions. So it is easy for us to over look how offensive it may be to use traditional costumes. In middle eastern countries where traditional dress is still important for special events it would be more apparent to them how this adulturates their culture.

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  15. I visited my area's Halloween store today. I was put off by the fact that every ladies' costume was hoochie-style, but I was honestly more concerned about the "slanted-eye novelty classes" with latex prosthetics and the large containers of face paint which only seemed to come in darker flesh tones (or unnatural colors). I decided not to buy anything from them. About every other year some d-bag at my popular and well-regarded American university dresses up in blackface, posts pics online, gets publicized for it, and then whines, "But it was a joke! Can't you take a joke?"

    Don't get me wrong: I do want to see more women's costumes that aren't specifically sexy. I just think there is a larger issue beyond sluttifying traditional dress around the world when we dress up as a person outside our culture. I don't know that it has to be 100% accurate portrayal, but respectful would be nice.

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  16. I'm less concerned about the appropriation of culture and more concerned that all of these costumes are effectively identical.

    What kind of message does that send to women? Mean Girls comes through again--remember the reception Cady got when she actually came up with a clever costume idea that didn't show off her goods?

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  17. What really gets under my skin about the marketed Halloween costumes for adult women is that they are all skimpy and slutty. I am both a modest woman and a little overweight. Not only do I not want to show off that much skin but it would not be flattering to me at all (and I don't think anyone wants to me in a mini skirt). It makes it impossible for me to buy a cheap, ready made costume at the store. Sometimes, I don't want to be creative and make up a costume on my own. I want to go to the store, spend $30, and walk out with something I can wear to take my kid trick or treating. Is that too much to ask?

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  18. Meliasaurus, I think it's easy to assume that the US doesn't have any traditions when you are part of the culture. Of course, Halloween is about invoking difference, so if you were to dress in jeans and a t shirt you wouldn't be fulfilling the idea of the holiday, but this standard outfit is an inherent part of our culture and has been developed with meaning through history.
    Halloween in itself is a tradition. As is Christmas, dressing up as Santa Claus is a cultural costume. Even current fashion trends which echo the 50s say much about our past and our tradition, particularly nostalgia, and how that is invoked in the present.
    Our traditions are merely invoked and socially embedded in different ways to the ones mentioned above.

    Also, Jaime I think Halloween says just as much about gender expectations as social ones. It is interesting that all the photos of the appropriated costumes are of similar looking girls, and I wonder is this because of the consumer or merely another way of expressing a distinct ideal?

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  19. I was a bit surprised to see German/Oktoberfest on this list, because the Dirndl that waitresses and women who go to the Oktoberfest usually wear today actually look a bit more like the costumes (well, the one on the left, at least)than the clothes on the picture you chose. They tend to have longer skirts and look more classy, though, and I've never seen them paired up with these strange over-knee socks.

    So, on a cultural level at least, I don't feel offended by them.

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  20. I's very interesting to hear Meliasaurus saying she doesn't think America has any cultural traditions.

    I'm originally from England (now living in Scotland - the apparent wealth of cultural tradition here is a very interesting can of worms...), and it's often bemoaned that we don't have any/many national cultural traditions of our own. Beyond, of course, having a Royal family. Think, both hilariously and sadly, of the recent Miss Universe competition, if you will (Jamie, I would love to see you analyse those outfits - please do!). Where the other countries, in the main, managed to sluttify an easily recognisable national costume, some poor English tailor had the task of making a Beefeater outfit look sexy. Not easy, and also not an outfit an English person would recognise as their 'national costume'.

    I've always thought of America as a place with a rich heritage of tradition - Thanksgiving, Independence Day, Native American Indians...Perhaps it's easier to recognise a cultural heritage from a distance?

    As a p.s. - please have a look at the Australian Miss Universe costume. If you have ever seen anything more offensive in fabric form than this, I would be glad to know.

    http://tomandlorenzo2.blogspot.com/2010/08/miss-universe-2010-national-costumes.html

    In fact, Jamie - I think I might have found an industry "more sexist, more offensive, and less culturally sensitive than that which produces Halloween garb"...!

    She said of it: "An Aboriginal artist hand-painted my swimsuit, which is the base of the outfit, which is very special.
    "I have a little sheepskin shrug, which I think is very Australian - very Outback.
    "We have these gorgeous little high-heeled ugg boots, which I think is a nice little finishing touch. It is something that I am really proud to wear. I feel magnificent in it."

    I'm so glad...

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  21. That's exactly why I've always hated those costumes.
    In Europe, we have no tradition of celebrating Halloween. Neither do I really know how it is celebrated in the US (as for the social expectations I mean). It really bothers me that for the annual carnival, only such costumes are available FOR KIDS. Seriously?

    Also, even though those cultures have altered, it's still part of their heritage, and I find it offensive to sexualize them. Thank you for bringing this up.

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  22. Although this was probably unintentional, by captioning the first image as "Native American woman in traditional dress," you inadvertently marginalize the native culture as well.

    Native American is a term so broad that it is akin to saying "Asian/European/African woman in traditional dress." My inexpert guess is that the woman pictured is a Woodlands Indian.

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  23. What I find troublesome, and what I imagine that Jamie finds troublesome, is not that these images might be insulting to individuals of Japanese, Native American, German, Mexican, etc. descent - because, as has rightly been pointed out, any person worth their salt is not going have their heart and ethnic identity shattered into a million pieces by a halloween costume. The issue is more about what these costumes say and insinuate to people who are NOT of those cultures. I personally would not want my as-yet-nonexistent children to be surrounded by inaccurate, highly-stereotyped, and overly-sexualized images of other cultures. I would prefer to have them surrounded by accurate depictions of the world we live in, OR by fantasy (a nice, healthy monster!). I'd rather they not be exposed to a weird sexy fetishization of an entire culture. And frankly, I think this goes for adults, as well.
    I don't think the protest of these costumes is about "protecting" some fragile culture or sense of identity, but about reducing the inclination that NON-members of those cultures might have to engage in these stereotypes.

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  24. totally agree abby. you said it better than i could have haha

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  25. I agree with Abby as well. That, right there, is the problem. :)

    Chrisi is right though - these days some Dirndls actually look like that. Although I guess you could argue that we Germans are appropriating Bavarian culture ourselves ... where I live, in the North, people dress up in Dirndls or Lederhosen for fun, too. We even have this joke going around (which I don't approve of) that we don't consider Bavaria to be a part of the same country. >.<

    Let me confuse you some more - we're even stealing Halloween from you. :P Fifteen years ago, nobody over here really knew what it was. We went trick-or-treating as well, but on New Year's Eve, while adults dressing up in fancy costumes was reserved for carnival season. And then, sometime during my teens (I'm 24 now), people suddenly started to celebrate Halloween. I was like, "What, that stuff from the movies? ... Why??" By now all children are familiar with it. I guess that's a sign of global Americanisation rather than cultural appropriation, though.

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  26. Slutty costumes are on our list of 10 Tips for Avoiding Halloween Costume Failures: http://costumefail.com/10-tips-for-avoiding-halloween-costume-failures/

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  27. Meliasaurus, I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that you are probably white, Christian or Catholic, and therefore part of dominant American society. So maybe you (unconsciously or consciously; I don't know you) didn't stop to think that there are many cultures in the United States with traditions, and people with non-white backgrounds are not any less American than white Americans. Also, to say that "Americans do not have any important or definite traditions" is a complete crock. For one thing, nobody has any "definite" traditions. And to take your statement more generally, it's just wrong, because Thanksgiving dinners with large meals and specific dishes is a tradition. In the Southwest, celebrating Cinco de Mayo (which is a bigger holiday in the US than in Mexico) is a tradition. In the Midwest, I believe, where there are many German and Scandinavian immigrants, Oktoberfest is celebrated. In terms of iconographic traditions, we have Hollywood, comic book characters, and plenty of other images that are "traditional."

    In regard to the blog post, I don't really find the generalizations with the "real" pictures that offensive since I see the point Jamie was making, but she did kind of screw herself when she assumed the same thing that asshole Halloween costume manufacturers do when they conflate the term "Native American" with one singular culture. Also, Halloween sucks, because white people can get away with culturally insensitive costumes such as those, and also because essentially all manufactured costumes or stock costume ideas (Disney characters, famous people, fairy tale characters, any costume with "skin color" parts to it, like a mermaid, etc) are white. Not that you were at all obligated to bring that up, but I think there are quite a few issues with feminism, cultural appropriation, and race preference when it comes to Halloween.

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  28. Given that the halloween costumes referenced used the terms "Native American" and "Indian", I don't think that Jamie can be faulted for not specifying which specific tribe those costumes are supposed to be imitating.

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  29. While a lot of these costumes are from the sexy department...they're just fantasy costumes for a good fun time. While I've seen things like the illegal alien costume are pushing it way far, the others are just a cheap look at a stereotype.

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  30. The sad thing is, I don't honestly see a whole lot or the stereotypes changing, and I think a lot of it has to do with a lack of exposure to the cultures invoked above as well as older generations still holding us down by having passed along stereotypes. Before someone calls me ageist, I bring as an example the idea of the geisha. When WWII soldiers were stationed in Japan shortly before the war ended and in the 5 or so years after it ended, actual geisha were few in number. So there were a lot of prostitutes who called themselves geisha girls to the US soldiers. Of course didn't know any better, so the soldiers assumed that all prostitutes were geisha, when they really were not.

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  31. Mr Costumes - if adults want 'fantasy costumes for a good fun time', they can Halloween away. However, aside from dodgy cultural/feminist issues, what disturbs me most about this array of micro-outfits are titles such as 'Cherokee Teen', and, most of all, 'Gypsy Princess Tween'. A tween is generally accepted as being between the ages of 9 and 14. I.e. ages that, under no circumstances, should think that these outfits are acceptable for them. They are not old enough for fantasy costumes of any kind, and the fact that people are marketing them at them is downright disturbing.

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  32. hmm. They don't really look as cool as the originals.

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  33. I'd just like to point out that in your Native American example, you fail to mention what nation the woman in the "traditional" dress belongs to. A serious problem in regards to the appropriation of Native American cultures is that many people equate Native American with plains culture. The costumes in this example are clearly emulating plains style of dress, and I'm a little disappointed that you don't point out that not all Native Americans come from the plains nations. Is this woman Sioux, Blackfoot, Crow, Cherokee? Because she's clearly not Iroquois, Navajo, or Tklingit.

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  34. Do you know one thing, asian halloween costumes look more sexy.

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  35. Ever been to a Halloween party that surpassed all other parties you’ve been to, combined? Well, that’s what you’ll get at the Kandy Halloween party, held at the Playboy Mansion. Because it’s Playboy, you already know it will be extravagant, exhilarating, exceptional and beyond beyond.

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  36. The native woman is probably Sioux, but who cares? The Indian woman could be Konkani, and the Romani woman is probably Lovari. This is just a tangent.

    The point is to contrast the collusion of gross cultural stereotypes and crass sexuality with how people actually dressed (or in some cases, still dress), not to ride around on a high horse and declare how culturally sensitive we all are.

    The conflation of specific ethnic groups within a larger whole is a totally valid discussion, but in the context of this article, it's just pointless pedantry.

    And the Cherokee aren't one of the plains nations. And it's spelled Tlingit. See? I can do it too.

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    Replies
    1. Hah You cannot tell that the Romani woman is Lovari. It is extremely difficult to tell us apart based on our dress unless you are, well, Romani. Even for us ethnic Romani it is difficult. I am Lovari. I am Romani & belong to the Lovari-Machvaya sub-group/tribe; we call it a vitsa.
      That picture was actually taken during the repatriation of Romani from France back to Romania, so the woman is likely not Lovari, but belongs to one of the many Romani sub-groups that inhabit Romania; Kalderash, Rroma, Ludari, etc..

      Before you post snide comments as the all-knowing cultural king, prehaps you should do some research.

      Delete
    2. Get over it, all this PC crap gets old.

      Delete
  37. Nobody in México dresses like that anymore. I doubt if many people dressed like that in the old days. Maybe in the north. :)

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  38. just wanted to let you know that I nominated you for a blog award on my blog!

    Check out the post here!

    http://frugalistafatshionista.blogspot.com/2010/10/my-first-blog-award.html

    Have a great day!

    -Desiree
    The Frugalista Fatshionista

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  39. Oh, I love these comment threads. Thank you for prompting so much discussion, Jamie!

    I'm with Meliasaurus as far as America not having many traditions. And, yes - I am white.

    I'm not saying that Americans don't have traditions but that I feel, as someone who has no other cultural/ethnic identity other than American, that I have no real culture. I know a little about my ancestry but don’t feel any connection to it. I realize I might feel this way just because I'm on the inside looking out, but I also have this feeling that American culture is, in its simplest form, the combining and exploiting of a whole lot of other cultures. It feels like we take bits and pieces from everywhere and, ultimately, boil them down until they are not recognizable as what they were and then exploit them.

    Does this make any sense? I’m mostly just thinking out loud.

    I want to feel a part of an America that embraces diversity and has an active conversation about what role we play in the world at large, but the only patriotism I’ve found in this country is arrogant, narrow-minded and based on fear. The people I have found who share my thoughts are not comfortable calling themselves patriots and, most of the time, our government doesn’t represent us. I guess when I say America has no culture I mean that the Americans I have met who call themselves patriots are not people I can align myself with. While I am and always will be an American, I identify more strongly with subsets of our society than the term American.

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  40. I've come back to reread this post and check the comments a few times now and the one thing that continues to stand out to me is the model in the "Taj My Hall" costume...kind of looks like somebody 'shopped Shahrukh Khan's face onto a woman's (heavily plastic surgeried/airbrushed) body.

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  41. I think these tasteless costumes speak more to the pornification of every aspect of our society than they do to cultural insensitivity. Real creativity, fun and mutually amazing sex are being pushed aside for whatever the porn industry is selling. And if you disagree you are labled a prude.

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  42. Does the offense to cultural costumes come from the "sexified" versions or the fact that they are costumes at all?

    I'm curious as I had this discussion with my boyfriend when I told him I was going to be a Geisha for Halloween, and he noted it would be offensive. I seriously mulled over the boyfriend's thoughts and decided to move forward with the costume.

    My costume, while not real, is not anything like the sexy versions above...and short of an unlimited budget or sewing everything myself I did put a good amount of work into putting together something semi-realistic.


    I guess I view Halloween as the one day where a person has the chance to be something they are not, to step outside themselves. I try to pick costumes related to things I find fascinating, such as Japanese culture (Geisha), the 1920s (Flappers) or something like a Mermaid.

    So, is there a right way to do a cultural costume of a people other than your own? Or is it all bad? Thoughts?

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  43. It's absolutely fine to do a cultural costume, but actually pay homage to the culture, don't just make it all slutty and everything!

    Oh, and about the sluttiness: someone suggested that to make up for it, they should make a bunch of men's costumes shirtless.

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  44. I've read many of these comments, and all I can say is: Wow. You people have way - and I mean WAY - too much free time on your hands.

    Seriously, people. LIGHTEN UP!

    But if you're interested in an even more comprehensive review of "insensitive" costumes, see:

    http://www.dribbleglass.com/subpages/costumes.htm

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  45. Blame Mozart and his Abduction from the Seraglio, though dressing up as "ethnic" characters is much, much older and cross cultural. I gather from Tony Hillerman novels that the Hopi have a character who dresses as an obnoxious tourist as one of their traditional humorous characters. I think a lot depends on the spirit of the thing. If you dress up as Benito Juarez or Pancho Villa, are you insulting Mexicans? We always get a few kids on Halloween dressed as bride and groom. Are they insulting marriage? There are definitely offensive costumes, but a lot depends on their narrative background.

    I do agree the "sexy" thing has gone a bit far. It seems that just about every costume has its "sexy" version. If you want to show off your legs, dress as the sexy mummy or perhaps Ms. Frankenstein. As I browse my seasonal Halloween catalog with its motorized skeleton hands clawing from the grave, I'm always expecting to see a "sexy" Godzilla with six inch fangs, LED atomic fire, a skirt not much longer than the fangs and chartreuse faux alligator stilleto boots, and that's the men's version.

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  46. Hey,people,wake up!Listen to yourselves!Do you know what you are saying and doing?I don't think so.GOD,wants you saved from going to Hell.Why,do you want to go to the place prepared for satan.GOD loves you so much,please turn to HIM,all your life will be changed,for the good.Why do you want to go to Hell?GOD, is willing to forgive and forget your sins.

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  47. i found more offensive that you post a weird pic of that "traditional Mexican costume" i mexican and the only mexican thing that freaking dude is wearing is the zarape.... Fail

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  48. The geisha costumes have always infuriated me because the entire idea behind what makes a geisha sexy is that you see nothing...they considered showing your wrist to a man to be incredibly provocative. :( People need to do their effing research.

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  49. I've got to say that our german Oktoberfest waitresses DO look like that. Well, their skirts go down to their knees but the rest is authentic. Oh no, wait ! We show more cleavage than those costumes do! xD

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  50. A bit late to post, but to bring up an oft overlooked sexist issue with halloween, I feel I should point out that young boys have even fewer choices than young girls. My niece hated all the costumes of princesses and fairies and chose a pirate look that was marketed for boys. Girls have that option. My young male cousin (age 6) loves disney movies and wanted to be a princess this year. No only did his parents refuse to let him wear the costume, but he was told over and over again how the other children in his school would ridicule him for his choice. If Halloween is about being free to dress up as anything we want (and I do concur that most women do not want to dress as sluts) then why are boys relegated to only male costumes. My cousin wanted to be Snow White and I see no reason why his choice was deemed inappropriate.

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  51. I am very late but really, I do not agree with this article at all.

    First of all, these are halloween costumes, halloween being the farce that it is now, it would be totally out of place to dress up like an actual romani or an actual native american for an event such as this.

    Secondly, these are COSTUMES. they are NOT SUPPOSED TO look like the real thing.

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  52. Besides the cleavage, the posted "slutty" costumes are actually not that slutty at all to me. Even the cleavage seems tasteful enough. I think the girls look great! And what's more traditional than flaunting what your ancestors gave you?! ;) You can't be intolerant of intolerance. That's hypocritical.

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  53. don't have time to read all these comments, but did anyone see the "sexy prisoner" costumes?!?! anyone who knows anything about prison knows that prison is, like, the least sexy, most degrading environment EVER, full of human rights abuses and literal SLAVERY. but oh, ha ha ha! such a fun sexy costume! edgy! ugh.
    great post, btw.

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  55. I realise it is now a little late to comment. I just wanted to say that while I understand your point, and agree that most these costumes are incredibly stereotypical and not at all like what they are supposed to represent, I, as a half German, am not at all offended by the German/Oktoberfest costumes. Of course nobody dresses like this in everyday life, but as far as I can tell these costumes are quite acurate representations of the clothes people wear at Oktoberfest (the photo of the waitress is very old). I'm just amused that anyone would want to dress like that.

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  56. Lordy, I found this blog by accident! I am proud to say my designs featured here (more than one) have been declared tasteless, racist, and slutty. Bad press is better than no press at all, so thanks to all.
    It is your first amendment right to say you hate my designs and call them whatever you want. It's still my first amendment right to design 'em. As long as women want to be exhibitionists of every stripe for Halloween, you're gonna have plenty to write about in years to come.

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  57. I'd like to point out that Mardi Gras in New Orleans is full of black face and silly-offensive costumes and generally lousy with cleavage anf sequins and glitter... And it's not just the drunken frat-party on Bourbon street. It's like Halloween too, and the spirit of the thing is always in homage to the great cultural mash-up that is Evangeline.

    Sexualizing Halloween costumes is probably a lot more deleterious than the racial stereotyping. This standard for women is harmful in that is presents "sexy" as being the only desirable trait for a costume. I think nearly everyone is aware that it's a stereotype, and in many case I do not feel that dressing up as one means you are promoting it. On the contrary, in my case.

    ReplyDelete
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