Appropriate or appropriation?

Make sure your Halloween costume is not culturally appropriating

By BROOKE KELLER
Staff Writer, UAS Whalesong
Halloween allows people to be whoever or whatever they want to be whether it be a princess, turtle, or block of cheese. However, there is a line when a costume can become cultural appropriation.
James O. Young author of the article Profound Offense and Cultural Appropriation published in the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, defines cultural appropriation as the taking of something produced by members of one culture by members of another.
Historical knowledge, as well as the individual, is lost when taken from other cultures.
UAS Assistant Professor of Social Sciences Lora Vess said, “An appropriated costume uses caricatures and stereotypes for someone else’s entertainment.”
Although, a costume idea may seem to be honoring a culture, it likely isn’t.
Victoria’s Secret received backlash for cultural appropriation after their 2012 annual fashion show included model Karlie Kloss walking down the runway dressed as a Thanksgiving Native American.
Kloss wore a floor length headdress, suede bra and panties, high heel moccasins and was dripping in turquoise jewelry. While Victoria’s Secret and Kloss made a public apology, the damage was already done.
Culturally appropriating costumes include sexualizing people of other race, ethnicity and culture but may also include the wearing of bindis, headdresses, sombreros, and black facing.
“People are not costumes and there is no excuse for pretending to be another culture or racial-ethnic group. It shows a disregard for well being of others who maybe don’t look or act like you,” Vess said.
UAS Indigenous student Naawèiyaa Austin Tagaban acknowledges diversity but expresses concern for the culture of native peoples.
“America’s a melting pot, but indigenous people have already had so much taken, and symbols being used is another form of cultural genocide,” Tagaban said.
Coordinator of the Native and Rural Student Center Kolene James stresses the importance of taking into account certain traditional, cultural and spiritual significance that regalia has.
“It is often brought out for ceremony or other sacred times and is not to be used for dress up,” James said. “Sacred symbols, regalia, and icons are not free to use.”
People can dress up as a pancake or a blueberry or look up ideas on Pinterest as James suggests.
This Halloween ask the question, as Vess said, “Would I be embarrassed or ashamed if someone from the group I’m portraying saw me wearing this?”

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