Don’t Wear a Culture, Wear a Costume


Vogue and Marie Claire

Celebrities are a part of the group that wears these culturally offensive outfits. This provides a negative influence on the people who follow these celebrities' accounts.

By Charlize Quinto, Santaluces High School

As we all welcome the autumnal season, we also welcome the heavily anticipated time of the year (for most)— Halloween. While you plan your costume, there is something you should consider: “Is my costume culturally offensive?”

You have probably seen it before. A guy shows up to a party wearing a Saudi Arabian turban with a fake bomb to look like a “Muslim terrorist” because he thinks it’s funny. While this is stereotypical and very offensive, this also disregards the beautiful and rich value of that culture.

What is cultural appropriation? It’s taking dresses, practices, or symbols from a culture that is not your own. This may confuse people because we all share and use things from each other’s cultures. However, there is a difference between using that culture in a respectful way, versus disrespecting it.

For instance, a woman wearing a kimono while visiting Japan to be respectful of that culture is fine. But, wearing a rice hat or a kimono, portraying a stereotypical Asian to a Halloween party is offensive.

As someone who is of Asian heritage, it disheartens me how people wear cultural clothes as something for fun. People disregard the clothes’ magnificent and lavish history. A Cheongsam, for example, is a dress that originated in the early 19th century in China. This dress empowered modern Chinese women as they liberated themselves from traditional values. It helped them embrace their femininity and sexuality.

When I was a kid, my mother would always bring home beautiful, silk, floral Cheongsam dresses from her travels.  We would wear them during our family functions. Seeing people wearing these dresses as a costume to ridicule Chinese culture is sad.

No one’s cultural background deserves to be mocked. Every cultures holds a significant value in someone’s identity. Also, many people face and overcome these stereotypes every day. Put yourself in these people’s shoes.

Educate yourself and keep an open mind. Halloween should be a fun holiday, not a day to disrespect or offend.  So for this Halloween (and every other Halloween), don’t wear someone’s culture.

This story was originally published on The Tribe on October 30, 2019.