Fri. Jun 9th, 2023

When Halloween is approaching, I almost always get frustrated. Why? Because of the costume choices available and the costumes some people choose to wear. People joke about their costumes and think it’s funny; but, sometimes it’s not funny, not even a little.
One year during my undergraduate career here, a friend of mine went to a Halloween party and before leaving she showed me her outfit. I asked her what exactly her costume was intended to represent. Her response was “Well, a Native American, of course!” My jaw dropped a little as she ran out the door to go to her party. After she left I sat there thinking to myself, why would anyone think that dressing up as a different ethnicity or heritage is a costume. I really do not think it is appropriate to use ethnicity or heritage as costumes. In fact, I think it is racist to some extent; especially people who dress the part of a stereotype. News Flash: Just because people belong to the same ethnic group does not mean they all dress the same, act the same or talk the same. I think it is unfair to those who are being mimicked and sometimes being the center of a joke. There are plenty of other options out there that actually are funny, wear those!
The other problem I have is with the Halloween costumes available to younger people who identify as girls. Some of these costumes are only enough fabric to cover about half of their bodies. So basically we are making these young girls into sexual attractions. Short skirts and shirts that show their midriffs are not appropriate for girls. When those girls become women and they choose to dress that way, then that is their prerogative. No one is saying it’s wrong for women, but when these costume companies offer costume choices that are only these options of scantily clad I think there is an issue.
I think costumes for younger women and girls should be empowering. Letting them know it is okay for women to wear pants, be strong individuals and fight the bad villains in the world. I recently read an article on BuzzFeed by Erin La Rosa about 24 costume options for younger girls that will help them feel empowered and not sexually objectified. These ideas she listed are so creative, intelligent and fun! Some of the options she showed pictures of include: Hermione from Harry Potter, the brave Amelia Earhart, the most talented Frida Kahlo, the courageous Joan of Awesome (Arc) and other more generic costumes like a ninja, doctor, TARDIS from Doctor Who, and lego ladies. If you go to BuzzFeed there are pictures of every suggested costume. Other costumes not shown that I’ve thought about are the Power Rangers, witches, Queen of England, Michelle Obama, and any famous (or not) female athlete.
Am I trying to be a debbie downer on Halloween? Of course not! I just want everyone to pick their costumes carefully. Think about how others may perceive what you are wearing and if they will be offended. For those of you taking out your younger cousins, sisters, or nieces to go trick-or-treating, if you can encourage them to pick a costume that says “Hey, look at me! I’m awesomely awesome in my costume that does not sexually objectify me.” That would be a great start to making a difference in her world. Help her know she doesn’t need to show skin to feel important and valued. Show her how being smart and brave is more important than being pretty. For all of those going to parties or going trick-or-treating have fun and make smart, safe choices!
Rebekah Balmer is a first year graduate student in the higher education counseling and student affairs program. She can be reached at

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