Every year, with out fail, people don Halloween costumes that cause controversy.
And also like clockwork, people come out against offensive, and often racist, costumes. DoSomething.org currently has a campaign “1 Star for Hate” which asks people to give “one-star reviews of racists costumes.” It has a similar goal of the campaign “We’re a Culture Not a Costume” in seeking to educate people about cultural appropriation — and why it’s still not okay even on Halloween.
Here are some of the costumes that have already sparked public outcries this time around:
1. Caitlyn Jenner
The Halloween costume of reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover was released in late August by retail company Spirit Halloween. Social media erupted with criticism of the costume, with many saying it is offensive to the transgender community. Since the costume became public, a Change.org petition asking the company to stop producing and selling the costume has accrued more than 18,000 signatures.
“To make a costume out of a marginalized identity reduces that person and community to a stereotype for privileged people to abuse,” the petition reads. “If you follow through with production of a Caitlyn Jenner costume, cisgender people will purchase it to make fun of her and our community.”
2. Israeli Soldier and Sheik/Fagin Nose
Multiple organizations, including the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, called on retailers to stop selling the “Israeli Soldier Costume for Kids” and “Sheik/Fagin Nose.” The organization said the Israeli forces are a “symbol of violence and fear for Palestinians living under occupation” and should not be “used for entertainment purposes.”
It added that the nose, which was described as “perfect for an Arab Sheik” on Walmart’s website, “perpetuates racist tropes.”
“The glorification of Israeli soldiers juxtaposed with the mockery of Arab people promotes an anti-Arab racism that is all too common in America,” the group wrote in a letter to retailers. Walmart has stopped selling the nose and Israeli soldier costume, but other retailers, including Amazon, have not.
Blackface is yet again an issue this Halloween — despite many making the point numerous times in the past that blackface is never okay.
In 2013, actress Julianne Hough received criticism when she darkened her skin to resemble Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren from “Orange is the New Black.” Already this year, a Florida student darkened her skin to dress up as Nicki Minaj and an elementary school teacher did the same for his Kanye West costume.
Minaj and West can be great Halloween costumes, but there’s no need to change your skill tone to dress up like them.
4. Cecil The Lion
American dentist Dr. Walter Palmer sparked international outrage when he killed a lion named Cecil that had been living in a national park in Zimbabwe. Palmer’s admission of killing the lion and mounting his head in his living room led to revelations of a large, unregulated, South African captive lion hunting industry.
Now, a “Lion Killer Dentist Costume,” which includes a bloody smock and a stuffed head of a lion is available for Halloween. Actress Ashley Benson already received backlash for dressing as Cecil the Lion, arguably less offensive than the lion killer costume, so it’s best to stay away from this topic all together.
5. Sexy Donald Trump
“Sexy” costumes are seen every Halloween, causing controversy over their sexist roots. This year, adding to the costumes that never needed to be sexy, a “sexy Donald Trump” costume has hit the stores. While this is far less offensive than the sexy “Anna Rexia” costume that unfortunately still exists, there is really no reason to make the GOP presidential hopeful into a “sexy” costume for women. So, please, let’s agree to not.