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Dr. Julia Becker


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Are Halloween Costumes Offensive?

Posted by Dr. Becker Thursday, October 27, 2011

 

Halloween Along with the traditional ghost, cartoon character, and princess costumes, you may see some different characters this year. Halloween costumes are supposed to be fun and humorous, but is there a line between funny and offensive for Halloween costumes?

 

Many people believe so, including some University of Ohio students.  These students are protesting costumes depicting people of different ethnicities, such as Japanese geishas, a Latino wearing a poncho and sombrero, and an Arab terrorist wearing a fake bomb.  Such costumes can promote stereotypes and hostilities against certain ethnic groups. 

 

Especially troubling is the new “sexy anorexia” costume, depicting a skeleton body with measuring tape around the waist and neck.  Making a joke of anorexia or depicting it as “sexy” sends the wrong message to girls and women.  This also fuels the general public’s misunderstanding of anorexia and other eating disorders. 

 

Children and teens may have strong emotional reactions to the Halloween costumes their peers wear to school.  Kids and teens already deal with the normal developmental tasks of trying to fit in and developing self-esteem.  At the same time, they may also be struggling with an eating disorder or discrimination based on their ethnicity.  Seeing their peers depict these issues in humorous Halloween costumes may cause feelings of shame, anger, sadness, or confusion.

 

However, these costumes can also provide an opportunity for people to start open conversations about eating disorders, discrimination issues, or any other concerns that the costumes may evoke.  Parents can take this opportunity to talk to their children after school and discover what their kids and teens think about these issues.

 

Please visit Becker Counseling and Psychological Services for more information.

1 Responses to Are Halloween Costumes Offensive?

  1. melissa Says:
  2. I know this post is a year old, but it's relative for next week. I agree with you. Costumes can be so offensive. I have to go to a costume couples shower, I went looking for a costume at several Halloween stores. Not only were they inappropriate, but totally offensive, adult and children's costumes alike. Children's costumes are way to sexy. What kind of message are parents sending to their children? That it's ok, because it's Halloween, not to worry. Parents should guide their teens and children every day of the year. Parents should never allow children to make fun of any person, in costume or in person. Bullying is such a big problem in schools as well. Adults should know better. I'll be looking at costumes more closely this year during trick or treat. :)

     

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