costumes & cultural appropriation: the best way to ruin my favourite holiday

Life of a Black Girl

Here’s something you all should know about me: I LOVE Halloween.

I’ve always loved dressing up and although my costumes are usually not particularly creative, I still have so much fun wearing them.

Here are some examples:

The Basic Devil Costume

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, indoor
Image of me in my third year taken from my Facebook album.

The Showgirl/Magician/Ringmaster (whatever your best guess is) Costume

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Image of me and my roommates in my second year taken from my Facebook album.

The Ambiguous Animal Costume
(there was a wolf on my shirt so I was a wolf)

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Image of Alina and I in our first year (oh god) taken from my Facebook album.

You’ll notice that all of these costumes have something in common… Yes, they all lack originality, but there’s something bigger – they all don’t imitate a culture or a cultural character.

Now, I know what you’re thinking and it’s probably illustrated by one of these cute little cartoons:

Image taken from #MuslimGirl.

Well, my misinformed friend, that is simply not true. What these cartoons and potentially you are participating in is cultural appropriation which is the adoption of something from a culture that is not your own.

Woah woah woah. Hold on, I know you’re DYING to ask me why this concept does not apply to “white culture.” To this, I will promptly reply that it is specifically used in the context of minority culture because of the existing power imbalances that are a result of colonialism and oppression. Also with a big, fat


Image taken from @cardib’s Instagram.

Now that we understand the rules, let’s have some fun and play a quick game of

APPROPRIATION OR APPRECIATION!

Alright readers, first off we have an old fan favourite: Paris Hilton!!!!!!

Image taken from Mic.com.

Did she appropriate or appreciate?

The answer is: APPROPRIATE.

Native American/Indigenous Peoples have experienced mass cultural genocide (amongst many other things) so the last thing they need is a rich heiress in a war bonnet to remind them of such tragedies.

Next up is not one of my personal favourites, but you may “fancy” her: Iggy Azalea!

Image result for iggy azalea cruella
Image taken from the Daily Mail.

Did she appropriate or appreciate?

The answer is: APPRECIATE.

In this case, no one has the monopoly on what’s black, white or has spots all over (except maybe that adorable Dalmatian). This costume, not only looks great but, also stays away from creating any stereotypes or taking away credit from other cultures.

Final round and this one is an all or nothing. Our game closer: Heidi Klum!

Heidi Klum Source: Getty Images
Image taken from Mic.com.

Did she appropriate or appreciate?

The answer is: APPROPRIATE (I mean like come on!!!!!)

I’m really not entertaining this one with an explanation.

This closes our game of Appropriation or Appreciation!

 

Despite this cheeky play, please understand that cultural appropriation is not a game. It further perpetuates stereotypes, diminishes recognition of others cultures and continues the harmful effects of oppression.

So have fun this Halloween, but think about your costumes and don’t be a jackass-o’-lantern. 🎃

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