Thursday, October 27, 2011

Are costumes racist?

My daughter hasn't decided what she's going to be for Halloween this year. We are unusual, because unlike the recent trend, we don't buy a "finished" Halloween costume. In other words, my kids don't pick up a box at WalMart, with all the pieces to be Lady Gaga in it.
Not that we never did that. Way back in the 80's, when my kids were young, we bought the Care Bear, Voltron etc costumes. But we stopped after a while, and I began to pick up what I called "pieces" at yard sales. An apron here, a moth eaten stole there, a scarf, a hat, and long zippered, robe-y things.
Now my daughter has a trunk of pieces that spans over 20 years for her to pick through. And even when she has finished her Trick or Treating stage, I will probably continue to add to the trunk. You just never know when a bank manager might need a boa and a fedora, or a librarian might need a few strands of long beads!
So my daughter might be a gardener, a dancer, an old woman etc. A student group is complaining about different pre-packaged costumes, as an example, geisha and another costume that has as components a long mustache, a poncho and a sombrero as being racist. Is it?
I remember as a kid in school, studying continents and then being assigned one of the countries on that continent. On due day, many of my fellow students would dress in their assigned countries ethnic clothing while reading their report on the country. Were we being racist back then?
Are some people just too politically correct, or do some of us need to learn to be more sensitive?


Sherri said...

personally, i think people are looking for a cause... for a reason to be upset... just like you were saying, when i was in school, we used to dress up in ethnic costumes for reports, choir shows, plays, etc with no complaints... these days it's just not so... i remember hearing somewhere about a kid who wore a woven african style shirt to school one day (he was white) and he was beat up for being racist.... turns out, he was from africa...

Cascia Talbert said...

What a neat idea! I think my mom had a plastic tote full of pieces of costumes too when I was growing up. I don't think she got them at yard sales, though. I have no idea where they came from. When I was a kid I remember making my own costume every year. Halloween is so much fun! Have a wonderful weekend.

Mary Bennett said...

Sherri, I think you are right. Most countries have an ethnic way to dress or rituals that are unique to them. No one thinks that every Mexican male wears a mustache, or every woman from Japan dresses like a Geisha. I'm wondering though, if someone was to dress like a typical American, how would they dress? In jeans and a t-shirt? No one would guess they were in costume!
Thanks for visiting my blog!

Mary Bennett said...

Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting Cascia! I think I am going to go through the trunk and get rid of the smaller costumes since we don't have any really littles anymore. But things like long strands of beads, plastic cigars, eyepatches, gloves, plastic swords, hats, aprons are timeless. Who needs packaged costumes?


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