In the spirit (no pun intended…honest!) of Halloween, I feel the need to vent a little about costumes. When I was a little girl, which really wasn’t ALL that long ago, I don’t remember having to worry about my costume offending anyone. It was hard enough trying to decide between a cat (for the third time) or a princess, or come up with some good reason why I shouldn’t be the pumpkin that my mom thought was so adorable, but I thought made me look pudgy. (My best reason, which was entirely true, was the elastic on the little stem hat cut into the back of my ears and under my chin). Now kids and adults alike have to worry about what group of people they are unintentionally mocking in their costume choices. While I understand the need to be sensitive to different cultures and current events, it has become a bit ridiculous. It is like trying to walk across a floor strewn with glass shards and eggshells. There are only a couple of safe places to step.
Thinking back on some of the costumes I wore, I must have unintentionally offended SO many people, though some of the fault would be my mother’s (sorry mom). I was a Native American (and actually, that was still during the time when we used the term “Indian”), a nerd, and a Chinese girl. I believe I went as a hobo one year when the weather was rather cold and nasty, and I was a pirate once or twice. As a child and preteen, Halloween was a day that I could have fun and dress up. I never thought that I could potentially offend anyone’s religious beliefs by being an angel or a devil. The bunny rabbit, black cat, and leopard I dressed up as possibly offended animal rights activists. The cute little hula girl costume I was so excited to wear most likely was not culturally accurate, but what 10-year old thinks of these things? I was just so excited to dress up and get candy, and that grass skirt was so cool!
I think our culture has become a little too politically correct. Can’t we have one day when we don’t have to stress out over other people’s sensitivities? Now I’m not saying that it is ok to mock anyone’s physical attributes or situations in life, but really…dressing up as a granny is not disrespectful to the elderly. Growing old is a fact of life. Personally, most times, my costume choices were because I liked what I was dressing up as.
Let’s get something straight. Nine times out of ten, dressing as a ghost is not meant to mock the deceased or the unnaturally pale. The soldiers, cops, firefighters, nurses, and doctors knocking at your door are not conforming to gender biases. These could be people the children look up to or maybe aspire to be once they are adults. And yes, maybe we are not culturally accurate and more research should be conducted when dressing up as a Native American, a Swiss yodeler, or a Spanish senorita, but I would like to think that we could be flattered instead of offended that people are intrigued enough by different cultures to dress up this way.
I could go on in my ranting, but I believe I have a solution to the stress of choosing a costume. In order not to offend anyone, my go-to costume this year is me. I am the only person I can offend with this costume, and frankly, I really need to stop being so sensitive. It’s just a costume.