By MADHURA NADARAJAH
In a few weeks, we will be approaching All Hallows Eve, better known as Halloween. Traditionally a Celtic-Pagan holiday — though some critics argue that Halloween has its foundations in Christian beliefs — Halloween is a day to observe and pay respects to the souls that have passed on to another life. However, as with any cultural holiday, over time Halloween has become a commercial holiday. Barely having any religious implications left, Halloween is now celebrated in various countries as a reflection of the way people dress up in costumes, take pleasure in parties, and eat lots of candy. While the idea of partying it up and indulging in sugary goods is a supplement and not a peripheral to holidays, the idea of donning on new personas, on the other hand, is fairly new. Many people believe that wearing costumes relates back to the idea of protecting yourselves from the ghosts that roam the world on that day. Other theories of costuming stems from the idea of guising and souling.
Typically, Halloween costumes represent archetypal horror figures such as vampires, ghosts and werewolves. However, as the popularity and the production of Hollywood increases, Westerners reworked costumes to reflect these films. While vampires and witches are still popular choices, people don less scary costumes, such as hippies or people from the Victorian era. As the variety of costume options grows exponentially, the amount of inappropriate costumes does as well, which means choosing an appropriate costume is an important topic of discussion.
The first tenet of Halloween appropriate costuming I will talk about relates back to current events. As the election nears, politics make up a good part of current events in the United States. While I believe wearing a political figure face mask of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton is idiotic, I will hold my reservations because they do not carry enough definite offense for me to have a solid argument. However, I will provide my two cents on wearing costumes that represent murderers and other convicts, like clowns for instance. In America, late September and much of October have been over-consumed with people dressing up as clowns luring, threatening and scaring young children. While no one knows if the clown killers derive from the same group of ill-consumed individuals or if they are clown killers in their own respective manner, the authorities have not been able to track down the culprit(s). While the common person may arrive at the logical assumption that dressing up as a clown, while more or less of the country is hunting for clowns is illogical, other people still think it is a joke. Remember the clown hoax that occurred in our own campus a couple of weeks ago? Talks of a clown “sighting” spread like a disease putting everyone in either a mass panic or frenzy of irritability. Nevertheless, though the clown talks have died down, it is probably best to not pretend to be one for Halloween. If you do not believe me, look at your cult classic horror TV shows and films; no one who pretends to be or wears the costume of a “masked” killer makes it out safely.
My other piece of advice for choosing a Halloween costume is to avoid one that will appropriate another culture. Cultural appropriation is when the culture majority assumes traditions and materialistic attire from the culture minority; I also want to point out that hypersexualizing another group is also problematic and both falls under and is separate from cultural appropriation, but nevertheless is something that should always be avoided. Examples of costumes that give off the vibe to people that you are culturally ignorant include Pocahontas, Caitlyn Jenner and Moana.
For those who argue that these examples are bogus or that people are appreciating these previously mentioned groups, I am here to tell you that you are wrong. Contemporarily the way Halloween is celebrated, people assume a new persona. Pretending to be a Native American is not appreciation, it is straight up appropriation. With that I hope everyone will choose a Halloween costume that is stellar yet still appropriate.
Madhura Nadarajah can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org