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Halloween Costumes Are Crossing the Line

by Mira Miller


October 21, 2015 | Voices


From funny to frightening…


Sexy Indian Princess Costume. Halloween Costumes

For as long as we can all remember, Halloween has been about dressing up as something that we’re not in an attempt to evoke fear or laughter from those around us. But I, along with fellow Dawson students, believe that there is a fine line between humorous and offensive costumes. Where exactly must we draw that line?

Billie Mendel, a second year Dawson student,  says that last year she witnessed two costumes in particular that she found to be distasteful.

The first was someone wearing a hazmat suit with the word “Ebola” written on it, and the second was someone dressed as the late Robin Williams with a rope around his neck.\


Ebola Costume. The Tampa Tribune

“I think people sport these offensive costumes because they have the wrong idea of humour,” Mendel says. “Instead of going with a fun and silly costume, they decide to go for a costume that will attract numerous people’s attention. Unfortunately for them, this attention is negative.”

She says there is nothing wrong with wearing a costume for a good laugh, but there has to be a limit.

“I think that someone should be telling these people that their costumes are not okay because although they may seem funny to them, they may also be extremely offensive to other people,” she says. “For example, I was deeply affected by the death of one of my favourite actors, Robin Williams, and I don’t think it’s appropriate for someone to be mocking his tragic death.”

Mendel says that it is more than a matter of having a decent sense of humour; it is about respect.

Personally, I believe that this is caused by a need for attention at any and all costs. Every Halloween is an opportunity to wear something new and different that will impress those around us. While some people settle for the generic witch or vampire, others live for the chance to come up with a new and exciting idea that will draw the most amount of attention possible. The problem arises when this is done without consideration for those around us. Come on people, it really is just a day to dress up, eat unreasonable amounts of candy and at a certain age, get stupidly drunk.

Halloween doesn’t mean that there are no longer such things as “offensive” or “insulting”. Contrary to popular belief, people still have feelings and beliefs on October 31st. As Mendel previously stated, they deserve to be respected.

“I saw someone wearing a moustache who said they were Hitler,” says Rayna Martow, another Dawson student. “It was obviously a joke but it was still very offensive.”

Martow says she feels strongly about the fact that Halloween should not be used as an excuse to poke fun at extremely serious subjects.

“A lot of people think that being offensive is funny and will get peoples’ attention,” she says. “This is not only on Halloween but a regular occurrence where people laugh at racism, rape or other offensive jokes.”

She says she understands the desire to make people laugh, especially on a day where even the most extreme outfits are socially acceptable, but that doesn’t mean that we should ignore people’s sensitivities.

“Some people take it way too far. You are allowed to be out of the box and creative, but that does not justify being offensive.”

Additionally, many costumes out there tend to perpetuate racial and cultural stereotypes. Costume stores often sell “Indian” and “Geisha” getups, while some people believe that Halloween is an appropriate time to incorporate blackface into their costumes. Let me tell you people, there is never an appropriate time for blackface.


“We are a culture, not a costume” Hive Centre

Essentially, wear what you want this Halloween, but try to do it within reason. If you’re thinking about a costume that just happened to be the cause of millions of deaths, pokes fun at someone’s cultural identity or is a beloved actor who committed suicide, maybe think again.

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