When I came to university, one of the things I was sure I would be doing was creating and witnessing extravagant and fanciful costumes for various fancy dress events. As true as this has proved to be, I didn’t expect to be confronted with a garish and offensive array of characters and costumes.
It’s true, we all love a good reason to dress up and Halloween is as good as any other, particularly with the added element of being scary but this should not be an excuse to be offensive. It is important to think about others around you before diving into the charity shops and joke shops for ideas.
“Mental patient” is not an appropriate Halloween costume for example. 1 in 4 people will experience mental health issues at some point this year. Now imagine you are or have been a mental health patient. Imagine someone has just taken the one thing you think worst about yourself and transformed it into a Halloween costume to scare or even humour people. The chances are, you will know someone who has suffered, is suffering or will suffer from mental health issues, so it is important to take into account how they may be feeling when they are reminded of the horror it can cause. Eating disorders and Mental Health Issues are big problems in our society today that do not need to be celebrated and paraded around our streets as a joke.
Equally, Halloween should not be an excuse for casual racism. Terrorism and refugees do not make for funny jokes. Halloween is meant to be a lot of fun and you simply can’t display the horror of these situations in a fun yet tasteful way. It isn’t right to take truly awful situations and turn them into a mockery even if it is just for Halloween. Halloween may only be one night, but people will remember what others decide to go as.
Halloween is, like any other party or holiday, a chance to let your hair down and have a bit of fun, but it should be a time everyone can enjoy, rather than going through the night feeling on edge or even personally attacked. It is often impossible to know what people are going through or have been through beyond the surface of their everyday costume of life so it is important that Halloween costumes are not promoting unnecessary offence. Dressing up as a sex offender or even ex-sex offender probably isn’t the fun night out some people were looking for.
I would encourage everyone to think carefully about costumes this year as they hit town adorned in sheets, bin bags and fake blood. Is this something that could be a real issue to someone? You don’t want to be the one making people uncomfortable or being the party ender rather than the conversation starter you intended. Admittedly, not everyone wants to see a street full of slutty cats and drunk students wrapped in toilet paper and originality is always sought after in costume ideas but I believe people should think about those that could be victims of or experiencing the situations and characters you are trying to convey. Halloween is a chance for a bit of fun, not a chance to display and condone everything that is currently wrong with our society.
I hope you all have a fantastic Halloween this year and I have no doubt that there will be some truly scary, funny and extravagant costumes that will keep us all talking for weeks after, my only hope is that we won’t be talking about them for the wrong reasons. I wish you all the fun in finding and creating your grand designs but maybe just spare a thought for those around you as you delve into the gory, the fantastical and the just plain weird. 🙂