Opinion: Check Your Costume at the Door

How To Be Culturally Sensitive

What’s scarier than cultural appropriation?

When people do it consistently at the same time every year.

Halloween features candy, children and costumes. The latter is what most people seem to enjoy the most: dressing up as something they’re not. Halloween is the peoples’ chance to become whoever they want because it’s expected.

While true, the idea of becoming “whoever we want” is a privilege that is easily taken advantage of.

Cultural appropriation, or cultural misappropriation, is defined as the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect the culture it comes from.

Here are a few examples of spooky-season appropriation: any type of indigenous “tribal” wear, Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead masks, sexy geishas (traditional Japanese female entertainers) and gypsies, a slur that stigmatized the Romani people in Europe.

Honorable mentions of culturally inappropriate halloween costume accessories include blackface (dark makeup worn by non-black people to appear “black”), cornrows, hijabs, bindis, qipaos (traditional chinese silk garments) and sikh turbans.

Halloween is a time to embrace creativity and indulge in evening thrills, like haunted houses and corn mazes. However, it’s also one of the worst times for minorities and people of different religions and backgrounds due to a plurality of America not understanding the importance of cultural wear.

Below is a short list of non-appropriating costume ideas for anyone who still needs something to wear for the party. These options aren’t racist or based on minority groups or religion and will probably make you the best-dressed in the room.

Any Hayao Miyazaki Character

Not familiar with Mr. Miyazaki’s work? He’s the co-founder of Studio Ghibli, a Japanese animation studio famous for works such as “Spirited Away,” “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Kiki’s Delivery Service.”

Studio Ghibli has been sweetly dubbed as the “Japanese Disney” due to its adorable characters, endearing storylines and fantasy-riddled worlds. Its characters range from ocean princess Ponyo (similar to Ariel from “The Little Mermaid”) to the ashen-haired Howl (“Howl’s Moving Castle”) to the anthropomorphic bounty hunter Porco Rosso.

They’re fun, cute and very easy to copy. If you check out Amazon or any local store near you, you can pick up the bare necessities to make these costumes work.

Simple Classics

If you have a tight budget or no time for an in-depth search for your preferred costume, it doesn’t hurt to settle for simplicity.

Throw on all-black, get a cheap cat-ear headband and a tail, draw on whiskers and a button nose — bam, you’re a cat.

Continuing with the all-black theme, you could pick up a thin, sturdy stick from anywhere on the ground (it’s fall… there’s going to be branches somewhere), a low-priced floppy, pointy hat and now, you’re a witch or a wizard. Extra points if you bring a broom.

If you combine the top two? Congratulations, you’re now Professor McGonagall.

Switch over to all-white for the most simple and old-school idea of all: a ghost. Get a translucent white sheet and cut two holes for your eyes if you want to make Casper the Friendly Ghost proud. You can find low-priced sheets at Goodwill and Marshalls.

Not scary enough? Sharp, plastic teeth, a flowing black coat or dress, slick hair and a dash of fake blood will transform you into Dracula. Throw on a watch or some spectacles and you’re Drac 2.0, Dracula’s constantly-tardy, business-obsessed second cousin. Just don’t actually try to bite people (without their consent).


You are what you eat, right? On Halloween, you can be.

Dressing up as your favorite food or as any type of edible arrangement does not require long-term planning and can have the added benefit of giving you a built-in snack.

Going all red and adding a stem made up of a small twig, a leaf, a headband and some glue makes you an apple. You can also bring along a bushel to keep your friends well-nourished.

If you’re with two friends, throw on all green, attach a piece of paper that says “P” to your chest and now, you’re three peas in a pod.

Want something tasty and trendy? Become the Popeye’s chicken sandwich. This delicious creation came under intense Twitter fire when Chick-fil-A and Popeye’s got into a debacle on who has the better poultry. Although a number of us never got to try it, you can be it.

There’s an alleged “sexy” version (called the “Sold Out Chicken Sandwich” and priced at $79.95 plus tax on Yandy, an online women’s retailer) going around — if you’re into that.

Food costumes are hilariously simple when you have solid-color of clothing and a few household objects lying around.

Wacky Arm-Flailing Inflatable Tube Man

We’ve seen this oddity outside a number of car dealerships, reaching for the skies with its spindly arms and ever-smiling face. Also, the TV show “Family Guy” has a song about it (if you can remember that far back).

The Wacky Arm-Flailing Inflatable Tube Man is easy to copy: Wear your brightest colors, smile, stand in one spot and start wiggling your arms, torso and head back and forth in a wild fashion.

This has the potential to be the most frightening costume on my list.