6 Most Wildly Offensive Halloween Costumes
Halloween presents people with the opportunity to be sartorially creative. Usually, people use this as a chance to be scary, illustrate puns, or dress as sexy (insert inanimate object here), but for some obtuse jagoffs, Halloween is a day to be outwardly racist, sexist, or culturally insensitive, because hey “get a sense of humor.”
Last year, Chris Brown made (more) headlines when he unapologetically tweeted a photo of himself and his friends clad in turbans, robes and long beards while brandishing fake assault rifles. Photos of the human garbage from Florida who wore blackface and dressed up as Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman were widely circulated this weekend. On Saturday, Julianne Hough tweeted a public apology for her ill-conceived “Crazy Eyes” (from "Orange Is the New Black") costume, complete with blackface. In the words of Salon writer Brittany Cooper, “Do not wear blackface for Halloween (or brownface or yellowface or redface). It’s that simple. To do so is utterly and incontestably racist and needlessly insensitive.“ The asshatery is widespread enough that UC Boulder went so far as to ask students to refrain from wearing such costumes. As the following examples demonstrate, clearly a market exists for tasteless Halloween garb.
Originally titled the “Fun World Adult Mens Osama Bin Laden Middle East Costume Turban + Beard," the manufacturer has sinced updated the costume name to simply “Turban & Beard Instant Costume.” It’s hard to imagine that this new title is of much comfort to those who don a turban and beard. Rajdeep Singh, director of Law and Policy at the Sikh Coalition, told the Huffington Post, "If you lost a loved one during the 9/11 attacks or during our nation's war against Al Qaeda, or if someone attacked your father in a hate crime because he wears a turban, I doubt this costume would make you comfortable."
After receiving pressure from the Sikh Coalition, Walmart removed the costume from its website, but it’s still available from Fun World. Perhaps the most insulting part of this costume is that it’s too dumb to even recognize which culture it’s mocking. A fake beard and turban is not a look exclusive to Bin Laden.The Dastar is a religious garment for Sikh men, yet clearly this get-up is intended to mock Bin Laden and muslims and their “otherness."
Similarly, the (concisely named) “Home & Leisure Online (Fancy Dress) Terrorist Fancy Dress Mask Bin Laden Fancy Dress” is a mask of a man sporting a turban and a beard. Like the “Turban & Beard Instant Costume,” the mask suggests that any man wearing both must be a terrorist. It’s this kind of celebrated ignorance and contempt that exacerbates hate crimes, like those suffered by Sikh Columbia professor Prabhjot Singh in September. Singh was badly beaten and labeled a “terrorist” by his assailants, before being hospitalized, vilified for wearing a beard and a turban.
But, there’s more…
Behold! “Sexy” Bin Laden.
Is this a satirical nod to stringent Islamic dress code, or just how the manufacturer makes women’s costumes? Either way, inappropriate.
2) Women’s eating disorder/weight costumes:
Hey guys, want an edgy costume that insults women? Try this “Freshman 15” costume, a reference to the pounds women allegedly gain when they enter college. At best, this costume is just lame (the “freshman 15” doesn’t even really exist) and a lazy exercise in fat-shaming women, identifying a particularly vulnerable situation that can lead to an eating disorder.
Speaking of eating disorders, Halloween cruelty is not just boy’s fun. Girls can outfit themselves in a Kelly Bundy-esque costume called “Anna Rexia.” Not only does this costume lampoon women who suffer from the disorder, but the costume itself is a short, form-fitting spandex dress that’s supposed to look sexy. The costume is so self-aware that the image on the dress is a skeleton, perhaps suggesting starving oneself to death. Super sexy, right? Will they develop a provocative cancer patient romper next? Was ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) just too complicated to encapsulate in one skimpy outfit? Just, gross.
3) Racist Latino costumes:
There are seemingly endless cartoonish Latino stereotype-inspired ensembles which asshats can buy to match their best Mel Blanc impression. There’s the “Hey Amigo,” in which one can be a mustachioed man in a poncho, “riding” a flaccid donkey. The commentators for this product are quick to remind you to “enjoy life” and not be offended by the costume, or the other equally offensive costumes they rattle off, which deride very real human beings and their tragic stations in life. Hey assholes, racism, reframed by Halloween, is still racism.
If you prefer a more alcoholic stereotype to disparage Latino culture, consider the “Tequila Popper Dude Costume.” Whoever names these crappy guises are true wordsmiths.
4) Mental patient costumes:
Halloween is the one day of the year when being a “mental patient” is amusing and sexy. Women (or men) can insult the mentally ill with the “Insane Jane” or the “Dreamgirl.” Are they “crazy,” sexy, or just crazy sexy? (The answer is neither, these are disturbing and rude.) The “Dreamgirl” costume is a short, tattered, bloodsoaked mini dress and straitjacket combo, topped off with a cap that reads “mental ward.” The details of this unsettling getup imply that the person wearing it has either committed, or is a victim of some sanitarium violence. The fact that the costume is gendered makes it especially disconcerting.
Last month in the UK, Tesco and Walmart owned Asda pulled their distasteful “patient” costumes after public outcry on Twitter, and both promised to donate to Mind. The tagline for Asda’s “Mental Patient Fancy Dress Costume” actually read “Everyone will be running away from you in fear in this mental patient fancy dress costume.” Even eBay has vowed to remove listings for costumes which stigmatize mental illness and has apologized to consumers. Alastair Campbell, a former Downing Street press secretary, told BBC London, “We are trying to change attitudes toward mental illness so people do not stigmatize it and something like this comes along and it just reminds you we are basically still in the Dark Ages.”
5) Native American costumes:
As we know, some Americans cling to racist Native American caricatures. For Halloween, jackasses everywhere can perpetuate the stereotype of the “savage” and the “squaw.” Ladies, you could be someone’s “Tribal Treat.” Dress up like a “Sexy Indian Goddess” so you can be “tamed” by that special racist who loves to sexualize otherness in your life. But as you put your headband on and coquettishly wield your tomahawk, remember that Native American women are 2.5 times more likely to be sexually assaulted and raped than white women in the US, and 86% of these assaults are committed by non-Native American men.
If you want to get really pissed off, check out this “Sexy Indian Maiden Costume." “Sassy Squaw” is offensive enough on its own, and it is made for preteens. Amazon added the “Sexy” description, because...I don’t know. It’s made for kids so this is infinitely more disgusting.
6) Appalling Asian costumes:
Speaking of hyper-sexualizing minorities, we now come to geishas. Despite what you’ve learned from Madam Butterfly, Japanese women are not one-dimensional, submissive sexual objects. Like the other sexualized racial types mentioned above, the danger of the geisha costume is that it reiterates the idea that Asian is “exotic,” while white is the normalized standard.
Racist bullshit peddlers Caulfield’s Novelty, Inc. carries what it's named “Oriental Specs.” (That’s right, it’s 2013 and they named their product “oriental.") The specs are plastic glasses with eye slits and exaggerated eyebrows, I guess for your everyday racist or Mickey Rooney, etc. They also carry a facepaint stick labeled “Oriental Yellow” (and African brown). How does this exist?!