I don’t know why the classic ghosts, witches, and ghouls seem to have taken a backseat to Spongebob and the Playboy bunny, but as I dug through racks of Halloween gear I found myself the most puzzled and horrified by the large number of “ethnic costumes” as they were labeled.
Regardless of whether you’re looking for a short sexy little number or something just for laughs I guarantee you there will be a racist stereotype in costume form to fit the bill.
There is the sensual and dangerous Dragon Lady costume, the lovely and dutiful Geisha Girl, and the fierce and evil Asian Warrior (complete with plastic samurai sword). But if “oriental costumes,” as they were labeled, is not your thing there is always the exotic Hawaiian girl costume, or you could go as the lazy and drunk Mexican (complete the look with plastic bottles of tequila, seriously), or the high and mellow Jamaican (dreadlocks and plastic marijuana leaf are sold separately), or the argumentative Jew, or there is always the sensual Indian Princess in a short fake leather skirt, or the Indian Warrior with his plastic-feather headdress.
There were even “ethnic wigs” options. The Asian wigs include chopsticks, dreadlocks and afros to go along with the black costumes, and already braided wigs that came complete with feathers for the Native American looks. Not one of the models sporting the “ethnic costumes” was a member of the racial group being so tastelessly depicted, so many of them had eye makeup on to make them appear more “exotic.”
Have you ever noticed how we only make Halloween costumes of what is seen as different, unusual, exotic, and bizarre? I’m sure it isn’t done with any harm in mind, just holiday spirit, but it seems to me like then when an entire race or ethnic group is represented by a costume it makes them out to be anything but normal and their entire culture and history is reduced to an unflattering, cartoony caricature.