The Halloween Post

by | October 6, 2011
filed under Feminism, Pop Culture, Racism

After Pride, Halloween is probably my favourite holiday of the year. But unfortunately it also tends to be one that raises my feminist hackles, as costume companies come up with new ways to advance racial stereotypes and cultural appropriation, and sexualize women in every single profession and identity you could think of.

Last year I wrote a post of 10 Halloween costume ideas for feminists, including Carmen Sandiego and a spoof on the “sexy nurse” costume. I’m going to add a couple of ideas to that, but first I wanted to point out the “Eskimo Tease” costume (left) I came across shopping for costumes at Value Village. After scoping out costume stores with a feminist eye for a couple of years, it’s rare that I find something that’s a new one, but this one was.

Point one, the term “Eskimo”, while a highly contested term, has a racist past and is generally unacceptable in Canada. Point two, the picture on the packaging and the costume name continues in the tradition of other racist costumes like the ever-popular “Geisha Girl” or “Pocahontas” in implying that racial identity can be boiled down to a recognizable outfit. It’s white people creating symbols to define other races, then appropriating those symbols without any acknowledgment of their history.

Koala Attack Costume

But now onto some cool costume ideas:

1. If you’re looking for something a little bit more macabre and a lot more bizarre, this vicious koala attack costume for kids posted at Instructables made me laugh, and I don’t see why it couldn’t be adapted for adults.

2.Codex from The Guild. While the costume is pretty sexualized, any fan of Felicia Day’s web series The Guild will know that Codex oozes empowerment. I’m betting this will be a very popular costume among feminerds this Halloween and at cons during the coming year.

3.No-sew Jellyfish costume (instructions at Martha Stewart) – just requires a clear umbrella and some bubble wrap and looks pretty amazing.

Owl dress for this year's costume

4. This year I’m dressing as an owl, in an adult version of this costume suggested by alphamom. A picture of the dress I made through really basic sewing of cut fabric “feathers” onto a brown dress I found at a thrift store. Still have to make the mask, then will wear dress over a brown long-sleeved shirt, brown tights, and brown shoes.

5. If you’re looking to be a ladybug this Halloween, let this super cool 5-year-old tell you how:

What are you dressing up as this Halloween?

-Jarrah


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