Halloween, the scariest time of the year, is just around the corner. Watching scary movies, carving faces into pumpkins, and dressing up in elaborate costumes are just some of the most fun Halloween traditions. But there is another tradition that crops up almost every year, and that is very bad Halloween outfit. There is always at least one person (including celebrities) whose Halloween costume is callous, problematic, and downright offensive.
A rule of thumb: cultures are never costumes. Dressing up as someone from a specific culture, especially a marginalized culture, is a form of cultural appropriation and can even be considered racist. The same goes for dressing up as events like the Covid-19 pandemic, natural disasters, mass shootings, or movements like #MeToo or Black Lives Matter. These costumes highlight serious events and minimize the long-term effects that many people still suffer from them.
In case you want to learn more about what to avoid, here’s a list of Halloween costumes to avoid this year (and every year).
There is renewed interest in Jeffrey Dahmer this year, after Netflix released its controversial series Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. Many people in the past have dressed up as the convicted serial killer, wearing his signature glasses and wearing wigs that resembled his haircut, along with short-sleeved shirts. However, the mother of one of Dahmer’s victims recently urged people not to dress up as the serial killer because it exploits its victims and re-traumatizes their families.
The Will Smith/Chris Rock Oscars Clap
Please don’t go to Halloween parties because it has something to do with the infamous Oscars clap. Hasn’t there been enough discussion already? Don’t be the one to revive the debate, especially if you’re white.
Queen Elizabeth II
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard
This is not the couple costume you think it is. Dressing up as something related to the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial — a defamation case that raised serious allegations of domestic violence — would downplay claims of abuse and perpetuate damaging stories about survivors.
Everything that has to do with Roe v Wade
overthrowing Roe v Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States nearly 50 years ago, was one of the biggest moments of the year. That doesn’t mean it has to be your Halloween costume. The decision to nullify the long-standing right to abortion made access to abortion care and health care even more difficult for millions of Americans, especially those from marginalized communities.
Since her rise to Hollywood stardom, Marilyn Monroe has been a prominent figure in pop culture. Many people have called the media for the constant display and exploitation of her image. From an “unwatchable” Netflix biopic to Kim Kardashian taking over her wardrobe, it’s time we left Marilyn alone.
Unfortunately, transphobic Halloween costumes are more popular than you might think. Costumes such as “Tranny Granny” and Caitlyn Jenner use transphobic expressions and reduce transgender people to a caricature. These costumes reinforce harmful stereotypes about transgender people, so shout them out whenever you see them.
Monkeypox and Covid-19
Anyone can easily put on a mask, buy a fake syringe or medical gloves and call themselves “Monkeypox” for Halloween. But if you did, you’d be keeping an eye out for the monkeypox virus, of which there have been nearly 57,000 confirmed cases worldwide as of 2022 so far. The same goes for dressing up as the Covid-19 virus. The coronavirus pandemic has claimed the lives of millions and continues to severely affect those who have not been vaccinated. Any costume resembling the SARS-CoV-2 virus, anti-vaxxers, or anyone with Covid-19 should be avoided.
While Playboy Bunny costumes have been a staple of Halloween costumes for years now, this may not be the best time to put on the bunny ears. This year’s ten-part docuseries Secrets of Playboy was released on A&E, which made accusations against the culture of the Playboy Mansion and the late Hugh Hefner himself. Several former Playmates, including Hefner’s ex-girlfriend Holly Madison, have even been candid about their “traumatic” experiences at the Playboy Mansion.
Body shaming suits
Body shaming is never okay, especially if it’s a Halloween costume. Not only does wearing a thick suit for Halloween show a total lack of creativity, it also shows that you believe that plus-size is a joke. It’s not. Plus-sized people can’t dress up as a “thin person” for Halloween, so acknowledge your skinny privilege.