Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The best costumes for Halloween (sans cultural appropriation)

It’s the time of year again for the same sexy cat girl costumes, cheap polyester Katy Perry get-ups and slightly offensive Native American impersonations to crawl from their graves for half-hearted attempts at costume creativity. Don’t be mistaken— there’s nothing wrong with sticking to the basics of costume design.

However, wearing a minority culture as a Halloween costume and trivializing the oversexualization of women represents a lack of cultural awareness. Instead of crossing cultural lines this Halloween, do a little research on creative costume ideas to find some inspiration.

Some of the best Halloween costumes take a classic concept and put a modern spin on it. Take my costume this year for example. I’m dressing up as Aurora, but I’m adding a feminist twist. The costume retains the original outfit structure of neutral colors for the skirt, blouse and black corset, but by adding gunmetal gold nail polish, black ankle boots, a sock bun for the hair and dramatic, pulled-up makeup, the costume looks modernized. The original Aurora costume epitomizes the “modest” woman, but these additions add a bold statement to a simple ensemble.

Unexpected materials, such as toilet paper or tulle, can also help turn an average costume into an extraordinary. Look at this squad of girls who dressed up together as bathroom loofahs. While the idea of homemade costumes may sound lame, creating your own masterpiece adds excitement and individuality to Halloween night.

The girls took sheets of tulle (the scratchy material loofahs are made from), cut them into squares, bunched those squares up and pinned them to a slip. Their creativity with simple materials provides inspiration for those struggling to come up with a dramatic outfit. It’s cute, simple, inexpensive and doesn’t offend anyone.

If you’re looking for something more eye-catching, try costume ideas taken from recent entertainment. Something like Maleficent, Daryl Dixon from The Walking Dead or Captain America are all immediately recognizable and appear in flashy, dramatic TV shows or movies.

A dramatic costume should be memorable and make an impression, and the quickest way to accomplish this goal is to choose something immediately recognizable. If it takes 20 minutes for someone to figure out what your costume might be, the impression is lost.

Halloween is a special day in the world of fashion because you can break all the style rules without facing judgement from peers. Outfits can be loud, tacky or unkempt, and that’s part of the fun. With such fashion freedom in mind, don’t exploit this freedom by criticizing someone for a revealing costume and certainly don’t dress as an entire culture different from your own.

Imagine yourself in their shoes. Would you want someone turning your culture into a joke or making you feel dirty for how you choose to express your Halloween spirit? Keep your Halloween costumes out of the world of cultural appropriation and in the world of creativity, originality and light hearted fun. Halloween is my favorite holiday— keep it spooky, not shameful.

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