Students from Ohio University’s group ‘Students Teaching About Racism in Society’ launched a campaign before Halloween urging people not to dress up this halloween as caricatures of a certain culture. Their slogan is “We’re a Culture, not a Costume.” These students believe that it is degrading and insulting to dress up as a steretype of a certain culture, for example, wearing a kimono to dress like a geisha or a Mexican mariachi suit, because everyone in the culture does not conform to that stereotype and by dressing up as that stereotype, you are sending the wrong message.
The ad campaign shows the students holding photos of different racial and ethnic stereotypical costumes. There are photos from the campaign below. The campaign went viral, showing up on blogs and other schools’ websites. The responses have been mostly positive, but there were definitely other people who did not agree with the campaign. They believe that Halloween is all about dressing up and people using costumes of racial or ethnic stereotypes are purely for fun and laughter and do not mean to be hurtful or insulting. According to CNN.com’s article “We’re a Culture not a Costume,” someone who did not agree with the campaign said, “Suddenly, I am overcome with the urge to dress up as the Frito Bandito this year. Guys & girls — Halloween is just bit of fun. Dead guys don’t come back to life and eat people. There are no hot blonde lady cops in tiny uniforms that demand to ‘frisk’ you. Kimonos are OK even if ‘Asians’ don’t wear them on a daily basis.” (CNN.com) Below is a link to the article.
I can see both sides of the arguement- I understand that these costumes can show that many people believe a culture to be only the stereotypes they hear about and nothing else. When people dress up this way it reinforces these stereotypes and gives that culture more of a stereotype and can give off a message that this is the only thing this culture is about. However, I also understand that Halloween is about having fun dressing up and it is not meant in a negative way. I think there is a balance between both sides of the arguement and that there is a limit that shouldn’t be crossed with costumes. For example, I am a woman and if a man decided to dress up as a woman, I would not think there was anything wrong with that, however, I am Jewish as well and if someone decided to dress up as a Jew and wear a huge nose, I would think that was insulting, because that stereotype is not true and means absolutely nothing about Jews.
These are 2 of the photos from the ad campaign:
Link to article: