There were a lot of articles leading up to Halloween telling people what not to wear while celebrating this pagan holiday turned excuse to dress up and eat candy. Cultural appropriation is a real issue and it’s not unreasonable to ask people to be mindful when choosing their costumes, but lately people have been blowing the issue way out of proportion.
Sometimes, much to the dismay of the extremists looking to cry appropriation at every opportunity, the costume is fine.
There’s a difference between dressing up in a poncho and sombrero, calling that a costume — when it really is someone’s culture not a fun dress-up game — and dressing up as Moana, a beloved Disney character and public figure.
Even though Moana is a Disney character of color, people shouldn’t criticize children who want to dress up as her. These children clearly appreciate her and are not appropriating her. That is the key difference that many people who are trying to fix the problem of cultural appropriation often overlook.
In failing to recognize cultural appreciation, people give themselves a bad rap of being too sensitive and critical.
Last Sunday, actress Lili Reinhart, posted a picture she found on a Halloween Instagram onto her Twitter of a girl covered in black paint from her hair to her feet. She was clearly dressed as a demon and Reinhart captioned the picture, “Found my Halloween costume!! Inspired by the color of my soul.”
The internet went into an uproar claiming that she was condoning blackface, but some might say that, actually, it was offensive to look at an innocent depiction of a demon and immediately think of a black person.
“Also, even if it wasn’t black face (it is), you’re still using the skin color to describe your soul, which is offensive,” wrote one person on Twitter.
The actual color black is different from black people, but if some people can’t separate the two, that’s a separate issue. This tweet is just one example of people creating problems where there are none.
Basically, people need to chill. It’s cool to dress as a demon, witch, fairy or scary clown, but it’s not cool to dress like your neighbor might dress, like in a kimono, or a hijab or dreadlocks.
Public figures are up for grabs too. Over the weekend people might have seen someone in a Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton mask. Obama might have been at the party too, but it’s silly to be upset if the person behind the mask was white — Obama is a former president and people have every right to make him into a funny costume as they do to make Trump one.
While public figures and characters are free to be turned into costumes, people need to be careful about how they decide to dress.
Wearing an Obama mask is one thing, but don’t be like actress Julianne Hough who wore blackface while trying to pay homage to her favorite character from “Orange is the New Black”, Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren.
People might say, well wait a second, wasn’t that appreciation, not appropriation, because Suzanne was her favorite character? The answer to that is: Never do blackface, ever, no matter what. Find another way to appreciate the character.
Those who are really concerned about upsetting people should just stick to banana suits and being a police officer with short shorts.
Ultimately, this holiday is meant to be fun and crazy. People need to stop being so uptight and critical about what is appropriate or not, but also think twice before putting on a costume. Just make sure that you’re not having fun at the expense of someone else’s.