Students respond to controversial Halloween costumes

Rebekah Alvey

On WKU’s campus, Louisville freshman Lindsey Bobb said she has seen a few Halloween costumes that may be considered offensive to someone else’s culture.

“Halloween is a time to have fun and express yourself,” Bobb said. “But not at the expense of other people’s culture or beliefs.”

Controversy over costumes, team names and other depictions that could be perceived as offensive or insensitive towards a different culture have become prominent. 

Bobb said she feels Halloween costumes that depict a certain culture or imitate a ceremony makes those cultures and rituals less important and takes some of the seriousness away. Some of these costumes Bobb said she has seen on campus included head dresses and “tribal” face paint.

According to a Washington Post article, several universities throughout the country have taken action against potentially offensive costumes through announcements and student campaigns.

Even though offensive costumes are not typically displayed prominently on campus and are often seen at parties, Bobb said the costumes can become divisive and cause tension between students.

“There’s a lot of fun costumes out there that don’t impose or offend other people,” Bobb said.

Brentwood, Tennessee, junior Presley Hill said she doesn’t think costumes are a big deal.

“They’re costumes, no one is trying to offend anyone,” Hill said.

Still, Hill said she understands how some people could be upset by recent costumes. One she said she has seen a lot of controversy over was Moana costumes.

According to an article in Variety, in 2016, Disney removed a costume for the Moana character Maui, which was a brown body suit featuring the character’s tattoos, after it received criticism for appropriating Hawaiian culture. Some critics also claimed the costume was an example of “brown face.”

Chicago senior Connor Crowell said part of the controversy could be attributed to people making restrictions against costumes and creating conflict. He said if people keep bringing the subject up, people will continue to be offended and upset.

Crowell said he believes if an issue is not directly impacting someone, people shouldn’t create an issue from it. In the case of sports teams with Native American mascots who have had controversy and a call to change names or logos such as the Redskins, Crowell said the mascots are just a symbol.

However, Crowell said there are cases of costumes that are purely disrespectful, such as blackface or dressing up as a terrorist. Crowell said some costumes do nothing but depict a “racist figure.”

Ultimately, Crowell said if a person dresses up in a disrespectful or offensive costume it will show more about that person’s character.

Springfield, Tennessee, sophomore Brianna Juarez said she hasn’t seen any controversial costumes on campus, but sees examples on social media. She said if people are made uncomfortable by the costumes, there should be action taken to create a better environment. However, Juarez said the costumes don’t bother her.

“I just don’t let things like that get to me,” Juarez said.

Reporter Rebekah Alvey can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].