Cultures Not Costumes

Halloween has never been a real thing or event in my life. I started to think about how Halloween costumes are hella ridiculous last year when I was looking for something to wear to my NYC community center costume party. As I browsed lots of costume stores with great disgust at the sexualized and racialized representations in costumes, I couldn’t believe just limited a woman’s options are to partake in Halloween. I mean, does every feminized costume have to be “sexy”? Sexy cop? Sexy nurse? Sexy janitor? Sexy sexy girl? I mean, c’mon. If you dressed sexy to half those jobs, it’d be hella unsanitary.

I’d strike a conversation with different people about it and folks would be like, “Val, don’t take it so seriously! Halloween is just for fun!” I’d be like, “oh,” and feel like a sociologist out of water then my smart-girl complex would get the best of me so I’d back off.

So, I decided to commission my partner to make a costume out of a hoodie. He came up with a chicken. I risked my vegan friends being mad at me, but my costume was a live chicken, not fried or cooked or anything. Anyway.

This year, instead of feeling defeated by the rant that Halloween is just for fun and that racialized and sexualized costumes are okay just because they are the norm. This year I urged my family here in the Bay to make costumes with me so that we could tap into our creative crafting selves but also so that my cousins, mostly women, wouldn’t have to wade through the sex costumes.

But really, props to Ohio University student organization, STARS, Students Against Racism on this campaign on racialized costumes. Straight to the point.

Also, on the heels on my previous post about undergrad education and students not being critical enough–BLAOW to the naysayers.

It’s not okay to belittle a culture. Not okay. At all.

This last one, especially, has a great message.

One response to “Cultures Not Costumes”

  1. jordan beltran gonzales Avatar
    jordan beltran gonzales

    Thanks for your writing, Valerie. I appreciate reading your reflections.

    Tonight I tried in vain to critically engage these issues with someone, but they weren’t trying to hear anything about being complicit with their own domination, let alone that of other folks . . . and that’s where the STARS movement is so powerful. The faces and voices of the students in the STARS movement bring these messages to a whole ‘nother level.


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