Think before you thrift: some thoughts on the ethics of Halloween costumes

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October 21, 2011

Well, it’s the end of October and that special time of year is almost here.

Staff Picks for Thrifting:
1. Thrift Town in San Leandro
2. Mars in Berkeley
3. Buffalo Exchange in Berkeley
4. Goodwill in Oakland on International Boulevard
5. Thrift Town in San Francisco (Mission District)
6. Aardvarks in San Francisco
7. Savers in San Francisco
8. Crossroads in Rockridge

But Halloween isn’t as simple as candy bingeing or, for the post-Trick-or-Treat crowd, drinking pumpkin ale — it’s also about having the right costume.

Although most of The Campanil staff quit trick-or-treating shortly after realizing Santa wasn’t real, we still like to get dressed up.
We take pride in thoughtful costuming and believe in breaking far outside the confines of typical “girl” costumes revolving around skimpy skirts and the like.

Don’t get us wrong, we’re not trying to slut-shame — but we find outfits catering to traditional dude-ish fantasies of female sexuality less than creative.

Also, we eschew the pre-packaged stuff and opt for a trip to the thrift store or reconfiguring household items to create the perfect Halloween get-up.

The cheaper the costume the more clever.  However, if you have to shell out four bucks for a used wig, who knows, it could come in handy in your themed cocktail party future.

Last but not least, nothing puts a damper on our masquerading fun quite like certain offensive costumes.

Yep, we’re talking about cultural misappropriation here.  Some of you may remember the hoop-lah over Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Whitney Isleib’s blackface costume of Lil’ Wayne last year, which brought up a lot of conversations about blackface and where exactly “fun” party costumes cross a line.

At The Campanil, we are all located pretty firmly in camp of “that is shameful,” on the issue, but it’s definitely not the only inappropriate and uneducated costume mishap possible.

We urge our readers to refrain from taking a page from Urban Outfitters’ fashion sensibility, as many of their outfits feature tribal patterns and clothing which generally trivializes and sexualizes Indigenous cultures.

If you want some sassy advice before shopping or crafting your outfit, we recommend you head over to YouTube and check out Daniella Pineda’s video “Genocide Chic” if you haven’t already.

Now that we’ve gotten that off our chests, we have to get back to brainstorming costumes.  Some of us still aren’t quite sure what to be this year, but come October 31st, maybe we’ll see you across from the apple-bobbing bucket or at a haunted house, who knows.

All we know for sure is that it’s going to be hard to say who has the best costume.


Think before you thrift: some thoughts on the ethics of Halloween costumes was published on October 21, 2011 in Editorial, Opinions

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