Story by Noel Ramos, Reporter
In today’s society, cultural appropriation is a very controversial issue. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, it is the adoption of one or more of another culture’s elements by an individual or community who are not part of the original culture. The members of the original culture are often offended by this because it trivializes their culture and life experiences.
So what does this have to do with Halloween and the costumes we wear? What a lot of people don’t realize is a lot of Halloween costumes, whether intentional or not, are cultural appropriation. One of the most recent examples of this is Percem Akin, a Turkish makeup artist who posted a picture on Instagram of herself with makeup on that made her look like a black woman. She captioned it “Color and Pain. My Lovely Black Beauty Transformation Make up [sic].” and also decided to add #slave. This is extremely offensive and Akin had to publically apologize as well as take down the photo because of the stunt.
Although there are a lot of costumes that are culturally misappropriating, I do believe some people can be a bit over sensitive about the topic. An example of this is a mother who would not let her daughter dress up as a Native American last Halloween. A stereotypical “Indian” costume would be an example of cultural appropriation, however, this little girl simply wanted to dress up as her favorite American Girl doll, Kaya’aton’my, who was Native American. There is a difference between an innocent child wanting to dress up as her favorite character and an adult who just wants to look cool this Halloween by putting on a headdress and carrying a walking stick. If a girl wants to portray her favorite American Girl Doll character, she should be able to.
Using this logic, are the students of Aquinas who dressed up in their Hawaiian costumes for Saint Slam in the wrong? Is the college in the wrong for hosting an event with a Hawaiian theme although they’re not Hawaiian? I think yes. The night was simply Hawaiian themed. It was not dubbed a night to celebrate Hawaiian culture, therefore, this would also be an example of cultural appropriation.
So, using this information, is your costume really just a costume this year?