But also, I work on a college campus and live in a college town, which means that there is approximately zero chance I will not see a racist, sexist, or homophobic costume. There is some chance I will not see an ableist one, but there is also a chance I will.
I am pretty sure none of my readers would ever do such a thing. But in case you know people who might, I will write this post so you can share it with them and save everyone some trouble.
Here's the thing: No one says, "Hey, Halloween's coming, how can I be superoffensive?" No one says, "I am a big racist, and like other big racists, I think this is funny. My racist friends will be so amused!"
People wear superoffensive costumes because they aren't thinking about it at all.
So here are a few things you can think, very quickly, about your potential costume, to see if the offensiveness of it might override the scariness or cleverness or awesomeness.
- Might someone else possibly construe this as offensive? This is a good one because you don't need (or get) to excuse it with, "My black best friend thinks it's hilarious." It's not about your one black best friend. It's about all the other people who don't know you and how awesomely clever you are, who will see you in person or on Facebook or anywhere else.
- Am I dressing up as a stereotype of people who actually exist? If you got past the first question but stumbled a little on this one, go back to the first one again now.
- Might my costume hurt a real person's feelings? This is a little trickier, but maybe (probably) you actually know someone who has struggled with addiction or unwanted pregnancy or mental illness. Maybe you know someone who embraces a religion you think is hilarious. Maybe you don't, but maybe someone you don't know will see you at a party and you will remind them of the person they used to know who died, and it will make them sad. If you're stumbling here, go back to the second question, and also the first.
- Does my costume rely on making fun of someone, and can I do better than that? Because, if yes, then yes.
May I offer you this one? I love it, and really feel like someone should do it. I think it's equally good for a kid or a grownup. Plus, now, if I see anyone dressed as a snail, I will assume they were thinking of dressing as a lesbian or a Mexican and decided, based on this post, that a snail would be better, and that will make me so beyond happy.
I might even give them a hug.