Halloween: To Be or Not to Be


The leaves are turning brown, everything is pumpkin-spiced and you have the uncontrollable urge to rewatch “Gilmore Girls:” it is almost Halloween. The one night a year you can pretend to be anyone you want— at least, almost anyone. This season, when mood-boarding your costume ideas, make sure to be aware of the potentially harmful social implications your ensemble might produce. Do not throw out all your ideas just yet, you can still have an amazing costume without being controversial. Listed below are the “do’s” and “don’ts” for costume ideas that will ensure everyone is comfortable and respected this Halloween. 

A Killer

DON’T: Dress up as Jeffrey Dahmer or any other notorious serial killers.

With the rise of glorification and romanticization of murders, it is important to remember all of the people that were affected; and more importantly, the victims’ families. A victim’s trauma should not be part of your Halloween costume. 

DO: Dress up as Patrick Bateman or any other fictional slayer.

Key word: fictional. Since these characters did not harm real individuals, it is acceptable to dress up as them for Halloween. That being said, go buy your Jason masks and Freddy Krueger claws. 

A Disney Princess

DON’T: Dress up as Moana, Pocahontas, Jasmine, Mulan, or Tiana (if you’re white).

It’s not appropriate to dress up as anyone outside of your own culture or ethnicity, and especially do not change your skin color with cosmetics in order to look more like the character. This stands not only for Disney Princesses, but for any costume.

DO: Dress up as literally any other Disney Princess.

Due to colonization and ethnocentrism, white people will unfortunately always have a Halloween costume.  There are a million costumes to choose from that are not forms of appropriation.Examples of other Disney Princesses include: Belle, Cinderella, Snow White, Elsa, Anna, Arial, Rapunzel, Aurora, or Merida. 

A “Sexy” Costume

DON’T: Dress up as a “Sexy School Girl.”

Dressing up as a sexualized minor is inappropriate for several reasons. Putting on an outfit representing something a child would wear and calling it “sexy” is promoting the sexualization of children. These costumes range from “Sexy Girl Scout” all the way to “Sexy Minion.” It is disgusting and unbefitting to look at a costume a child would wear and think to yourself, “Yeah, that is hot.”

DO: Dress up as Catwoman or a “Sexy Witch.” 

There are a plethora of sexy costumes one could choose from, if that is the route you’re wanting to go this Halloween season. If you are going to make a costume sexy, make sure it is made into something an adult would wear. Costumes you can make sexy include: pirate, vampire, 1920’s flapper, devil, angel, cupid, or a black widow. 

A Zombie or Ghost

DON’T: Dress up as Zombie Queen Elizabeth or a Dead David Bowie.

It is not innovative or acceptable to belittle the late Queen’s historical legacy of violent colonialism. Although you may want to honor one of your favorite idols, such a costume does not need to disrespectfully resemble or nod to someone’s death. 

DO: Dress up as a ghoul or Freddie Mercury.

Emphasis on “or.” Both costumes are great on their own, but there is no need to combine them. You should dress up as your favorite “The Walking Dead” character or Beatles member, but you should not combine them. It is never appropriate to glorify someone’s death and potentially controversial legacy.

A Funny Costume

DON’T: Dress as “Anna Rexia”, a “Free Mammogram Machine” or anything that uses a fat suit.

Yes, these are all real costumes. You shouldn’t wear an outfit that taunts or ridicules a marginalized group of people. These costumes may seem like “jokes,” but any related to homophobia, racism, transphobia, sexism, fatphobia, eating disorders, or sexual assault are blantantly insolent and impolite. If you would not say it to a friend’s face, do not wear it to a party. 

DO: Dress up as Captain Underpants, Pitbull, or a Blueberry-Violet Beauregarde.

If you can not be funny without using someone else as the scapegoat of your humor, you should not be promoting such inconsiderate jokes. Chances are, you are not funny. Dressing up as a beloved childhood character or the iconic Mr. Worldwide are great ways to be funny without making anyone feel individualized by being excluded or marginalized. Be creative, not destructive.