• Thu, Oct 24 - 5:00 pm ET

Indian Themed Costumes Are Not Honoring Our Culture And Need To Go Away

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays, except for one major flaw; Indian Themed costumes. Well, not just Indian themed costumes, but any costumes that appropriate another culture negatively. Indian themed ones just hit home for me especially hard because of my own cultural background. Whether they’re the cutesy Indian girl costumes for infants or the even more inappropriate “sexy Indian girl” costumes for teens, they’re offensive and they need to go the ‘eff away.

I am 1/4 Cherokee and much of my family on my father’s side is a part of the Southern Cherokee Nation of Kentucky. I am extremely proud of my heritage and made sure to educate myself about my family’s past and the history of the Cherokee nation (and native Americans in general). That history is one filled with honor, pride and tradition, but also violence and heartbreak. Which is why it pains me to see the disrespectful appropriation in the form of Indian themed costumes, of that culture every year during Halloween.

One excuse I often get is that it’s honoring our culture, not appropriating it. And occasionally I will see a costume where this is actually true. But for the most part, the vast majority of Native American themed costumes are ridiculously inaccurate and often downright insulting. You might think it’s cute that your daughter loves Pocahontas and wants to emulate her in a costume similar to the one above, but if she was in a more accurate costume you probably wouldn’t think it was so adorable.

Current depictions of Pocahontas were based off of highly politicized and romanticized versions of her meant to portray native Americans in a certain light and are far from realistic.

Every year I get my hopes up that common sense, political correctness or whatever you want to call it will prevail and I will see less of these silly costumes. Obviously I know I’m just kidding myself. The bottom line is that these costumes aren’t okay. Generic Indian themed costumes aren’t okay and neither are ones depicting fictional or historical characters because they are all based on inaccurate stereotypes of native peoples. They’re racist and I think everyone damn well knows it by this point.

I could go on and on about it and I’m sure people will call me over-sensitive, but this is not about some overreaction to PC culture. This is about respect and human dignity. The culture of my father and grandparents (and my own to a lesser degree) are not costumes. They aren’t trends to be tried on and discarded. It’s not okay to dress your child in Indian themed costumes, the same way it isn’t okay to dress yourself or your kids as a “Mexican” in a sombrero, a Geisha girl or in blackface as Amos and Andy.

There are thousands of non Indian themed costumes to choose from, how hard is it to chose one that isn’t disrespectful to someone’s culture? Yes, it’s hard to explain to your kids why they can’t pick out that cute Pocahontas princess costume. Most discussions about racism with kids are difficult. But they’re also worth the effort and you’ll be making your kids better people in the process.

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  • Don’t be racist

    Sorry, but it *is* offensive. Cultures are not costumes. It’s not a matter of growing thicker skin. It’s gross and tacky and insulting to treat other people like props, and we should be raising our children better. Why don’t you understand this?

    • Amanda Lee

      So what if it’s a person with Native American ancestry that dresses as one for Halloween? An honest question, btw

    • Sri

      Hopefully, someone with Native American ancestry would have more respect for the culture than a lot of these costumes. For example, I would hope that someone with Native American heritage would know that something like a war bonnet is a mark of honor, not an accessory to a costume. Wearing one as a costume piece is like making yourself a medal of honor and purple heart to wear on your soldier costume. I would hope that nobody with any Native American ancestry would dress up in that racist as hell Tonto costume up there. Also, to clarify, are we talking about actual people with Native American heritage or people who claim that they’re allowed to wear a war bonnet because they’re “1/16 Cherokee princess”?

    • Amanda Lee

      I’m talking like 1/2 of something. I’ve never seen an actual Native American dress up in a costume like that, but I have seen a Mexican person dress as the stereotypical Mexican with the poncho, sombrero etc.

    • CMJ

      Maybe Native Americans don’t dress like that because they do, in fact, find it offensive and refuse to perpetuate the stereotypes and incorrect depictions of them in popular culture.

    • Amanda Lee

      Maybe, but I’ve never really paid attention and I don’t know too many Native Americans. But can’t this apply to any person of any culture?

    • CMJ

      Well, I am a believer that just because someone else does something doesn’t make it okay (Your “stereotype Mexican” example). I know a great deal of Native Americans and they do, in fact, find this stuff offensive…they don’t dress up as a caricature of themselves for fun.

    • Tinyfaeri

      But…just because you can doesn’t mean you should? Consider my world rocked.

    • CMJ

      I feel like I am living in crazy town today.

    • Amanda Lee

      Sorry to both you and Tinyfaeri… I haven’t ever dressed up in a costume like this… I was always a pumpkin, witch, fairy, etc, for Halloween. Sometimes it’s hard for me to grasp things like this because it hasn’t happened to me and probably never will because I’m white.

    • Rachel Sea

      I, for one, appreciate that you are willing to think about it. Sometimes discussions of inequality are like physics. You’ll never get to see it for yourself, you just have to take it on faith when a person who has seen it says it’s real.

    • Amanda Lee

      Thanks Rachel. :)

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I see what you were saying, I don’t think you need to apologize. I think it’s admirable to admit when you’re unsure in these situations.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I see what you were saying, I don’t think you need to apologize. I think it’s admirable to admit when you’re unsure in these situations.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I see what you were saying, I don’t think you need to apologize. I think it’s admirable to admit when you’re unsure in these situations.

    • NativeAmericanWoman

      You don’t know too many Native Americans because the white settlers killed almost all of them.
      So saying that is as racist as saying “I don’t know a lot of Jewish people” when you’re in Germany or Poland.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I see your point, I do, but Amanda was trying to genuinely learn, not offend.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I see your point, I do, but Amanda was trying to genuinely learn, not offend.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I see your point, I do, but Amanda was trying to genuinely learn, not offend.

    • NativeAmericanWoman

      You don’t know too many Native Americans because the white settlers killed almost all of them.
      So saying that is as racist as saying “I don’t know a lot of Jewish people” when you’re in Germany or Poland.

    • NativeAmericanWoman

      You don’t know too many Native Americans because the white settlers killed almost all of them.
      So saying that is as racist as saying “I don’t know a lot of Jewish people” when you’re in Germany or Poland.

    • whiteroses
    • G.S.

      Just throwing this out there, and not taking a stance on it either way, but I went to high school with a very large population of First Nations people with a lot of their culture integrated into the school (programs, art displays, Ojibwe language classes, drum ceremonies, etc), and I DID see a few First Nations kids dress up like Pocahontas (not straight-up Disney, though). It wasn’t treated like a huge thing, and they were all pretty casual about it. But like I said, this is just what I saw.

    • DeForest

      As one of the ‘actual people with Native American heritage’ you speak of (1/2, so I’m not just a “Cherokee princess,” right?), I think it is more than a little condescending for you (not being NA) to say “I would hope that someone with NA Heritage would know…” Believe me, we know our own histories. We know our backgrounds. We know who are ancestors were and what was done to them. We don’t need you telling us what we should think or what we should learn–that’s been part of the problem for a long time. I appreciate that you can recognize an insensitive costume when you see one, but speak for yourself, not for me. And just because I’m not wholly offended by a kid in a bad costume doesn’t mean I don’t respect my culture. I’m more offended by your words than by seeing a 3 year old with beaded mocs and braids.

    • DeForest

      As one of the ‘actual people with Native American heritage’ you speak of (1/2, so I’m not just a “Cherokee princess,” right?), I think it is more than a little condescending for you (not being NA) to say “I would hope that someone with NA Heritage would know…” Believe me, we know our own histories. We know our backgrounds. We know who are ancestors were and what was done to them. We don’t need you telling us what we should think or what we should learn–that’s been part of the problem for a long time. I appreciate that you can recognize an insensitive costume when you see one, but speak for yourself, not for me. And just because I’m not wholly offended by a kid in a bad costume doesn’t mean I don’t respect my culture. I’m more offended by your words than by seeing a 3 year old with beaded mocs and braids.

    • DeForest

      As one of the ‘actual people with Native American heritage’ you speak of (1/2, so I’m not just a “Cherokee princess,” right?), I think it is more than a little condescending for you (not being NA) to say “I would hope that someone with NA Heritage would know…” Believe me, we know our own histories. We know our backgrounds. We know who are ancestors were and what was done to them. We don’t need you telling us what we should think or what we should learn–that’s been part of the problem for a long time. I appreciate that you can recognize an insensitive costume when you see one, but speak for yourself, not for me. And just because I’m not wholly offended by a kid in a bad costume doesn’t mean I don’t respect my culture. I’m more offended by your words than by seeing a 3 year old with beaded mocs and braids.

    • Sri

      I mean, you’re assuming a lot here. I wasn’t totally clear in my response, as I was a bit upset, though. I do have some Native American heritage, but I have never been part of the culture and I don’t feel comfortable identifying as part of the group because of my removal from the culture. There are a lot of people with similar stories because of the “reeducation” of many Native Americans, which you referenced in your reply. I do have family with a much stronger cultural connection, though, and they are horrified by some of these costumes because they make all of the huge variety of cultures into a homogeneous feathers and leather caricature. They view it as a sad commentary that they had their culture taken away from them, made more “palatable,” and then marketed to people who really have no idea what happened.

      My reference to “1/16 Cherokee princess” was a comment on the hundreds of people with a heritage similar to mine who think that they have a right to use sacred or honored symbols because they might be able to trace a tiny bit of their heritage to Native Americans. They haven’t earned the honor of using the symbols, and they don’t realize (or don’t care) that they’re being offensive by wearing them. Then, when Native Americans tell them that they’re being offensive and disrespectful, they respond that they’re 1/16 of some group (for some reason, it seems to be Cherokee more often than not and I have seen at least a dozen people claim to be “Cherokee princesses” in response to being called out) so they’re allowed to do it. It wasn’t a reference to people in general with a small percentage of Native American heritage, just people that abuse that small percentage to be disrespectful. I referenced a tumblr defense that I have seen way too many times, which caused a miscommunication. I am sorry for that.

    • Sri

      I mean, you’re assuming a lot here. I wasn’t totally clear in my response, as I was a bit upset, though. I do have some Native American heritage, but I have never been part of the culture and I don’t feel comfortable identifying as part of the group because of my removal from the culture. There are a lot of people with similar stories because of the “reeducation” of many Native Americans, which you referenced in your reply. I do have family with a much stronger cultural connection, though, and they are horrified by some of these costumes because they make all of the huge variety of cultures into a homogeneous feathers and leather caricature. They view it as a sad commentary that they had their culture taken away from them, made more “palatable,” and then marketed to people who really have no idea what happened.

      My reference to “1/16 Cherokee princess” was a comment on the hundreds of people with a heritage similar to mine who think that they have a right to use sacred or honored symbols because they might be able to trace a tiny bit of their heritage to Native Americans. They haven’t earned the honor of using the symbols, and they don’t realize (or don’t care) that they’re being offensive by wearing them. Then, when Native Americans tell them that they’re being offensive and disrespectful, they respond that they’re 1/16 of some group (for some reason, it seems to be Cherokee more often than not and I have seen at least a dozen people claim to be “Cherokee princesses” in response to being called out) so they’re allowed to do it. It wasn’t a reference to people in general with a small percentage of Native American heritage, just people that abuse that small percentage to be disrespectful. I referenced a tumblr defense that I have seen way too many times, which caused a miscommunication. I am sorry for that.

    • Sri

      Also, I bring up my own heritage not to play the “it’s ok, I’m NA too!” game, which I condemn later on. I simply wanted to point out that no, we don’t all know our culture and our heritage enough not to dress up like a cheap stereotype. My grandfather didn’t pass any of the culture down to us, so I used to think that the costumes were cool because, hey, I’m part NA and that’s what NA look like in the movies, so it must be factually accurate. I had to seek that information out, which I didn’t do until I was an adult because white privilege is a hell of a drug. I genuinely meant it when I said that I hope that someone would know about their own culture before dressing up as a cheap stereotype of it, since I grew up not knowing any better myself.

    • Sri

      I mean, you’re assuming a lot here. I wasn’t totally clear in my response, as I was a bit upset, though. I do have some Native American heritage, but I have never been part of the culture and I don’t feel comfortable identifying as part of the group because of my removal from the culture. There are a lot of people with similar stories because of the “reeducation” of many Native Americans, which you referenced in your reply. I do have family with a much stronger cultural connection, though, and they are horrified by some of these costumes because they make all of the huge variety of cultures into a homogeneous feathers and leather caricature. They view it as a sad commentary that they had their culture taken away from them, made more “palatable,” and then marketed to people who really have no idea what happened.

      My reference to “1/16 Cherokee princess” was a comment on the hundreds of people with a heritage similar to mine who think that they have a right to use sacred or honored symbols because they might be able to trace a tiny bit of their heritage to Native Americans. They haven’t earned the honor of using the symbols, and they don’t realize (or don’t care) that they’re being offensive by wearing them. Then, when Native Americans tell them that they’re being offensive and disrespectful, they respond that they’re 1/16 of some group (for some reason, it seems to be Cherokee more often than not and I have seen at least a dozen people claim to be “Cherokee princesses” in response to being called out) so they’re allowed to do it. It wasn’t a reference to people in general with a small percentage of Native American heritage, just people that abuse that small percentage to be disrespectful. I referenced a tumblr defense that I have seen way too many times, which caused a miscommunication. I am sorry for that.

  • Amanda Lee

    I don’t think it’s going to go away. I mean, would you feel the same if they were dressing up as a specific Native American? Like Sacajawea or Crazy Horse. I agree on with Oh for the love of tonto (*snicker* to your username by the way). I mean, if I dress up as an 1800s prairie girl, am I being racist?

    • Amanda Lee

      Seriously though, I don’t get the whole beef with Pocahontas. I loved that movie when I was little. If a kid wants to dress up as Pocahontas, excuse me, the Disney version of Pocahontas, so be it. No child is trying to make some big political/cultural/racial statement with their costume. They are playing dress up.

    • Rachel Sea

      The difference is that as an adult, you have the capacity to know better. Kids used to dress as n*ggers and chinamen, was that not racist because they were kids who enjoyed those comic villains?

    • NativeAmericanWoman

      It means you have failed as a parent. You should explain to your child that Pocahontas the Disney Movie is an invention of white minds to get your daughters to make you spend money. A good parent would make sure their children are well educated and know the real story. You should use the film as a chance to teach. Or you know, not have them watch that racist film at all.
      BTW, just because your child doesn’t intend to be racist, does NOT it isn’t.

    • NativeAmericanWoman

      It means you have failed as a parent. You should explain to your child that Pocahontas the Disney Movie is an invention of white minds to get your daughters to make you spend money. A good parent would make sure their children are well educated and know the real story. You should use the film as a chance to teach. Or you know, not have them watch that racist film at all.
      BTW, just because your child doesn’t intend to be racist, does NOT it isn’t.

    • NativeAmericanWoman

      It means you have failed as a parent. You should explain to your child that Pocahontas the Disney Movie is an invention of white minds to get your daughters to make you spend money. A good parent would make sure their children are well educated and know the real story. You should use the film as a chance to teach. Or you know, not have them watch that racist film at all.
      BTW, just because your child doesn’t intend to be racist, does NOT it isn’t.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Do even a cursory bit of google research (the links I provided perhaps) and you’ll see the issue. The entire story that US kids are taught, as well as the Disney version, are a complete farce made to portray native Americans in a certain light. The Disney version may be a lighter, more positive lie, but it’s still a lie.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Do even a cursory bit of google research (the links I provided perhaps) and you’ll see the issue. The entire story that US kids are taught, as well as the Disney version, are a complete farce made to portray native Americans in a certain light. The Disney version may be a lighter, more positive lie, but it’s still a lie.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Do even a cursory bit of google research (the links I provided perhaps) and you’ll see the issue. The entire story that US kids are taught, as well as the Disney version, are a complete farce made to portray native Americans in a certain light. The Disney version may be a lighter, more positive lie, but it’s still a lie.

    • Katia

      “The entire story … Is a lie” ? How so? Can you describe this in a sentence or 3″ I grew up in a very liberal area- elementary school and high school both taught a very ‘white people were awful’ perspective. Is it possible that your impression of everyone else’s impression is like that because you are from a conservative area or small town? (I don’t know where you’re from at all)

    • Rachel Sea

      It’s a lie because it didn’t happen they way it is portrayed, which we know, because history. http://www.powhatan.org/pocc.html

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      But she just said she learned the “white people were awful” version. I took it that she knows the truth and is only like wondering why people assume that all white people are completely ignorant. I learned the whole Thanksgiving everything was happy lie in elementary school. But I learned the truth later and then went on to college and learned even more. Not every white person is uneducated about everything.

    • Rachel Sea

      She asked how the story was a lie. I assumed that means that in spite of an education which didn’t identify white people as the happy heroes, she is not familiar with just how wildly divergent the commonly accepted story (which is usually that Pocahontas was a teenager who fell in love with John Smith and stopped her father from killing him) is from reality.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      No, she used quotes around that, then said she learned the “white people were awful” version.

    • Rachel Sea

      There were three quotation marks, I figured since Frances didn’t say anything about “describe it in a sentence or 3″ that the third quotation mark was a typo.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      Mighta’ been, but what was underneath it was where she relayed her experiences.

    • Katia

      Sorry, one quotation mark was supposed to be a question mark! And I thought Frances meant “everything about native Americans” was an lie. Actually I don’t know the story about Pocahontas (seen the cartoon but forgot)
      It’s Not a story I learned in school (Pocahontas)
      Still waiting for Frances… And pretty sure if she knows the story a lot of people know what she knows

    • Rachel Sea

      Why would you think her knowledge is representative of the general population? I only know the honest story because I looked it up, because I found the movie incredibly offensive when I first saw it.

      If you actually want to know what the history is, read any of the links provided, they aren’t long or hard to read. Waiting on Frances to give you the Cliff notes version in 3 sentences or less is silly at best, and the laziest kind of rebuttal technique, commonly used by the worst of dudebros at worst. I’m sure you don’t want to sound like the dudebros.

    • Katia

      As i replied above, I was assuming she meant everything about natives is a lie. Not Pocahontas. I saw pochAhantas and I belv you guys that Disneys version was not close to reality. Not going to read further about pochAhantas right now. Wanted France’s to confirm is she was referring to pochAhantas or not.

    • Katia

      Also I didn’t mean that as a challenge “3 sentence or less” but I understand she doesn’t have all day to answer. Hope you hinder stand that it’s not that I’m lazy- I don’t know that I could use google to find out “why everything we think about native Americans is wrong according to Frances” and if she meant the pochAhantas story- it’s pretty insulting that she thinks we’re (non-natives) all idiots who use Disney movies to learn history- even if one reader said her daughter loved the movie.

    • Rachel Sea

      A quarter of the adult population is functionally illiterate, which means the only way they learn new information is by word of mouth, or media. People don’t have to be idiots to have learned a wrong thing, and have it reinforced by popular media. Those of us literate enough to be having this discussion might choose to talk about it with others – some of whom may be unable to read it or do research for themselves.

    • whiteroses

      All you really have to do is Google Pocahontas and ignore pretty much every reference to Disney. Not that hard.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      I do remember learning that version, but I also remember “unlearning” it pretty quickly a few years later. (But that was over 30 years ago, I don’t think the lie is taught anymore) I think it waskind of like a Santa Claus/Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy kind of thing maybe. We don’t start telling kids the truth till late elementary school. The real one is a hard dose of reality, but they do get it. I just don’t know when. I can poll my sixth graders and see what they know……

    • Rachel Sea

      Given that some history books are now teaching that slavery was a good thing for black people, because it provided employment, I’m not inclined to assume that the Pocahontas lie is not being taught.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      Just asked my fourth grader. She hasn’t been taught anything in school about Pocahontas (and she loves that kind of stuff, so she would have remembered). I figured they just point-blank would drop it from curriculum rather than spread a lie, which is what it appears has happened. However, you’re right. If schools teach nothing, then Disney wins, so we just had a chat, because I can’t be having that shit around here either. So now we’re having a whole conversation about the truth.

      However, WHAT history book is saying that?!?! Source please!

    • Rachel Sea

      I’m not sure what the history book is, but my cousin is in a public elementary school in Texas, and his textbook talks about how it was wrong for Africans to sell their own people into slavery, and that once slaves came to America, they got free housing, and were taught trades, and given religion, and now their descendants are citizens of the good ol’ US of A instead of living in hovels back in Godless Africa (I’m not exaggerating). His mom is looking for a charter or private school that won’t teach him this kind of horse shit.

      This article (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/23/tea-party-tennessee-textbooks-slavery_n_1224157.html) mentions the changes to Texan education in the context of proposed changes to Tennessee’s standards. I don’t know whether Tennessee’s textbooks have changed, but I do know that at many of Louisiana’s charter schools are teaching this same revisionist history, as well as biblical science. http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2012/07/photos-evangelical-curricula-louisiana-tax-dollars.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      Christ, that’s depressing.

    • Rachel Sea

      Word. If I get to have kids I’m reading their textbooks cover to cover before I let them use them.

    • Justme

      If your cousin has a good teacher, she’ll know that the books are a bunch of crap and won’t teach directly from the textbook. There are plenty of amazing resources out there for teachers to teach from – especially for social studies. Most of the teachers that I know hardly ever have a student crack open the book and lecture directly from that material.

    • Rachel Sea

      It being required teaching, whether the teacher is good or not is mostly irrelevant. It’s probably too much to ask that a teacher, who has 20 people behind her in want of her job, abhor racism sufficiently to subvert the school board. Most people don’t care that much.

    • Justme

      Nowhere in the state of Texas curriculum social studies TEKS will you find anything requiring THAT mindset to be taught. The TEKS are what matters – not the textbooks, most of which are wildly outdated and horribly misinformed. A teacher who is strictly teaching that particular sentiment expressed in the book is far more likely to have issues with parents, administrators and the school board than a teacher who uses a wide range of factual information that are more in line with the state standards.

    • ElleJai

      I have in point of fact researched the real Pocohontas, and I realise that Disney enjoys taking stories and, erm, (what’s the politest term here?) “adjusting” them for their audience.

      Where I, in my non-American, white self, am confused, is at the part where we’re assuming that dressing up as Disney Pocohontas is like dressing up as the real one. To me it’s kinda like dressing up as Barbie. We all know she’s not representative of anything other than pretend.

      From this thread I gather that it isn’t seen like that AT ALL by Native Americans. Can someone please politely explain what the difference is? Is it because she’s based on a real person that she’s unable to ever be a stand alone princess?

      I would very much like to understand, because I don’t want to unintentionally offend anyone through ignorance.

    • whiteroses

      I think it’s not only because she was a real person, but also because her story is a decent illustration of how some Natives were treated- the forcible introduction of white culture and all that.

    • ElleJai

      Alright, so after spending the last hour reading each and every comment, I’ve come up with my own answer. Anyone feel free to chime in and tell me if I get it wrong.

      It’s not the same because: Firstly, white people (I’ll call them people, but I have a private name for folks who go about nicking other people’s countries that is less polite) arrive on American soil, promptly introduce death via disease and guns, steal land, rape women and otherwise attempt genocide because they’re self-centered, egotistical dickheads.

      Compounding this original offence, years later, some other ass then steals the name and some bits of the story, changes it and adds some catchy songs and a happy ending, which then gets passed down to the masses as “history” – albeit twisted out of all reasonable recognition.

      So by dressing up as this particular princess, one is in fact involved in perpetuating a “palatable fallacy” thereby further disrespecting the actual culture and suffering of the people whom one wishes to honor. Not to mention a reminder of exactly what white people did to the Native people (which didn’t involve catchy songs or even consent). Thus, racist.

      Am I close yet?

    • whiteroses

      I don’t think you’re wrong at all.

    • AlbinoWino

      An 1800s prairie girl isn’t associated with race so much as a time period. There are still so many misconceptions about Natives and wearing these historically inaccurate costumes just further subjects a severely subjugated group of people to stereotyping. You would better an honor a Native person by learning about their history, not trying to appropriate their culture by wearing a costume of them for entertainment purposes. We killed, relocated, and enslaved Natives and continue to treat them very poorly as a nation so, yes, I think we owe it to ourselves to nix out this particular costume. Who is it hurting by not dressing up as a Native? No one. I say this as a white person who attended college with a 15% Native population not far from several reservations. I listened to Native people and their opinions on these matters because, yes, ultimately I trust them most of all when discussing THEIR culture.

    • Amanda Lee

      I didn’t kill, relocate or enslave any Native Americans. There’s a chance that no one in my direct family lineage did either. I can’t stand when people bring that crap up. Just because I’m white doesn’t mean you get to blame me for everything bad that’s ever happened to a minority because of white Americans. What if it was a British white person dressing up as one or a black person? Your argument isn’t so sound there.

    • Rachel Sea

      You still benefit from the slaughter. Had it not happened you would not be a member of the continent’s dominant culture, and enjoying all the privilege that provides.

    • Amanda Lee

      Very true, Rachel. Idk, I guess this is just low on my list of things to get offended about. I don’t believe people are usually trying to make fun of or be racist by dressing up in any “culturally insensitive” costume. I think there’s is more serious, blatant, and violent racism to worry about. It just seems like a lot of Mommyish articles have become “what can I get offended about today”. Sometimes I agree, sometimes I don’t.

    • Rachel Sea

      You don’t have to be offended to recognize that a thing is offensive to others, and so refrain from using it.

      Benevolent racism (the kind that makes people think dressing up as Tonto is a celebration of Native culture) is still racism, and hurts people just the same as being called a slur. The only difference is that only obvious racists will defend an ethnic slur, whereas self-proclaimed allies will defend benevolent racism. Sometimes it even hurts worse to be hurt by your “friends.”

    • Amanda Lee

      Thank you for sharing your point of view, Rachel. I understand why these types of costumes are culturally insensitive a little bit better. I think you should have written an article about this subject. You present your ideas and views in a calmer, nicer way. When I was saying a lot of Mommyish articles have become “what can I get offended about today”, it instantly ticked me off (probably shouldn’t have commented then). If it was presented how you have explained it… I would have actually thought about it instead of getting instantly defensive.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Well, considering that I have quite a bit of family that still lives in reservations (which are NOT all money and casinos, unlike what the media portrays is as) I do think it goes beyond something that doesn’t really hurt anyone. I have a cousin who was violently assaulted on the reservation and little could be done because one, they aren’t protected by state or county police, and two, there just aren’t the resources to do anything about it. dEcades ago my great grandmother died a dog’s death of TB and there was nothing to be done because of the lack of decent healthcare. I have tons more storied like this. I don’t think you’re trying to be offensive, but it is coming off that way. This isn’t some Mommyish cause of the week, this is my FAMILY. I might only be 1/4, but my dad (who I often write about here, the man who raised me) was 1/2 and his mother (who also helped to raise me) was 100%. This isn’t some abstract idea for me, this is my life.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Well, considering that I have quite a bit of family that still lives in reservations (which are NOT all money and casinos, unlike what the media portrays is as) I do think it goes beyond something that doesn’t really hurt anyone. I have a cousin who was violently assaulted on the reservation and little could be done because one, they aren’t protected by state or county police, and two, there just aren’t the resources to do anything about it. dEcades ago my great grandmother died a dog’s death of TB and there was nothing to be done because of the lack of decent healthcare. I have tons more storied like this. I don’t think you’re trying to be offensive, but it is coming off that way. This isn’t some Mommyish cause of the week, this is my FAMILY. I might only be 1/4, but my dad (who I often write about here, the man who raised me) was 1/2 and his mother (who also helped to raise me) was 100%. This isn’t some abstract idea for me, this is my life.

    • staferny

      I have seen some reserves in pretty bad shape, and with extremely high crime rates what I always wondered is why people actually stay there, this is an honest question btw, not trying to be rude so please don’t take it that way. What is the draw to stay living on a reservation?

    • Rachel Sea

      There IS a lot of flight from reservations, but there is also draw to living on your own land, and participating in your own government, surrounded by your extended family, and people who share your culture, who will not discriminate against you because of your membership in the culture. When people don’t exercise their reservation land rights, the federal government tends to chip them away. It’s also hard to improve a reservation you don’t live on.

      Even when people do want to move, many lack the resources. If you are seriously short of funds and employment on a reservation, you aren’t going to be in the position to move to a better place. The cycle of poverty is a bitch to break.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Well, considering that I have quite a bit of family that still lives in reservations (which are NOT all money and casinos, unlike what the media portrays is as) I do think it goes beyond something that doesn’t really hurt anyone. I have a cousin who was violently assaulted on the reservation and little could be done because one, they aren’t protected by state or county police, and two, there just aren’t the resources to do anything about it. dEcades ago my great grandmother died a dog’s death of TB and there was nothing to be done because of the lack of decent healthcare. I have tons more storied like this. I don’t think you’re trying to be offensive, but it is coming off that way. This isn’t some Mommyish cause of the week, this is my FAMILY. I might only be 1/4, but my dad (who I often write about here, the man who raised me) was 1/2 and his mother (who also helped to raise me) was 100%. This isn’t some abstract idea for me, this is my life.

    • AlbinoWino

      Of course you don’t get offended by it. It doesn’t apply to you so it’s easier for you to dismiss the feelings of others. No one says it should be a priority for you specifically to think about. But that’s why we have discussions of ideas. We are able to further understand the world around us and in this case some of the biases that have existed and continue to be ok’ed by some many of us. Just by being white you are awarded many advantages in life whether you want to admit it or not. I’m white and I realize this just as I am female and I recognize that being a woman can cause me to be disenfranchised by society.

    • A-nony-mous

      I believe that white people realized a few decades ago that dressing up in ‘blackface’ and “dressing up as coons” was offensive. And most people wouldn’t dream of dressing up as a Nazi, especially en mass. But people think it’s fine to dress in stupid fake Native costumes.

    • Amanda

      If you’re going to pick a European culture to be ok dressing up as minorities, British *really* isn’t it.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Well said, and BTW I love your screen name.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Well said, and BTW I love your screen name.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Well said, and BTW I love your screen name.

    • Ann B.

      I think this logic here is kind of why I don’t get it, too. By this logic, is it wrong too to wear the wholly inaccurate “Renaissance” Halloween costumes they sell? Is it improper to let kids wear sports uniforms without full padding, because it’s not teaching them how a football player would dress? Should we ban witch costumes ( and decorations! they’re everywhere!) since they’re probably offensive to Wiccans? I mean, no one is trying to be insulting to any of these cultures. Except maybe the Wiccans – those are pretty disrespectful if you think about it. But to a different commenter who said cultures are not costumes…. well, I kind of disagree. History creates costumes that change and evolve. If it were a professional reenactment, I would expect full blown accuracy. But maybe it’s my white privilege showing, but I think that a little kid wanting to emulate a historical culture is about as much of a compliment from a child as you can get. After all, my son went as Batman this year. If his hero of choice later is a Native American he learned about in school and wants to ” dress like him” (as best he knows how) for the one day a year when non traditional modern dress is acceptable, why is that not a compliment to the child?

    • Rachel Sea

      When one culture has annihilated another culture, it’s racist as hell to dress up in a comic version of the slaughtered people’s regalia.

    • Amanda Lee

      What if they aren’t American Rachel?

    • Rachel Sea

      If they are white, their ancestors, and their cultures were complicit in the atrocities and continue to benefit from the repercussions of colonialism. If they are any other ethnicity, it’s still racist, but it’s a different kind of offensive, minorities exploiting each other instead of elevating each other.

    • CW

      Many Europeans immigrated to this country long after Native American land was taken. So you’re unfairly tarring all Americans of European descent when only some had ancestors who were complicit in the 17th-19th century land grabs. My Irish ancestors were being oppressed themselves during the same time period…

    • A-nony-mous

      Then why not be empathetic? I have a hard time believing people when they claim oppression but then quite gleefully oppress others.

    • Paul White

      I think some people simply don’t view these sorts of costumes as oppression. I find them distasteful, but I think that categorizing them as oppressive is a stretch myself.

    • Rachel Sea

      My ancestors were being persecuted by the Spanish, and Russians during the colonial period, but they still benefited when they immigrated. If Native people still held the territory in New York and Georgia where my family settled, they would not have been able to settle as they did. Non-Natives still benefit from colonialism, as resources are stripped from reservation land, and as reservations are used as toxic waste dumps.

    • Simone

      Sums it up neatly. The phenomenon couldn’t be more offensive if it were deliberate.

    • Simone

      Sums it up neatly. The phenomenon couldn’t be more offensive if it were deliberate.

    • Simone

      Sums it up neatly. The phenomenon couldn’t be more offensive if it were deliberate.

    • Sri

      Here’s the thing: When someone dresses up like someone from the Renaissance or a prairie girl, who gets hurt? No one. When a kid goes out an dresses up like an inaccurate version of a group of people who have been systematically shut out of the land that they own and slaughtered on a massive scale, been subject to a heinous amount of stereotypes, and then commodified for the profit of the people that hurt them in the first place, it hurts real people. You’re boiling down an heterogeneous group of people with diverse cultures and traditions to “brown dress and feathers in braids.”

      People think it’s fun to dress up like an inaccurate Native American stereotype for one night, but they don’t think about what it must be like for the people who live as an actual Native American who is subjected to these stereotypes. I’m not suggesting that parents have these weighty conversations with their children, but they can sure as hell steer them towards less offensive costumes.

    • Rachel Sea

      Racism doesn’t just disappear without effort. That some people still use racial slurs does not mean that racial slurs are not offensive, it just means that some people choose to express racist thoughts. the same goes for racist costumes. Just because they exist doesn’t mean you have to wear them.

  • Rachel Sea

    Amen. You might as well dress your kid up as a little Klan member, or a Nazi, or a skinhead for the message that is sent by dressing up as racist caricature. It doesn’t matter whether someone thinks they are being nice while they are celebrating racist stereotypes, racism is racism is racism.

    That Disney is sometimes racist (and I LOVE Disney, but I recognize their screw-ups too) does not excuse you from raising your child not to be racist.

    • Guest

      I realize I’m commenting all of this article. Letting your child dress up as Pocahontas for Halloween does not make your racist or your child. I remember wanting to be the Disney Pocahontas when I was little. I idolized her and wanted to dress like her. I’d hardly call that racist

    • Rachel Sea

      The movie was racist. Liking it does not automatically make you a racist, but celebrating its racist characteristics brings you to that edge. You are adult and that means getting to choose whether to recognize life’s complexity (that it is possible to like a racist thing while abhorring racism), or ignore the hard subject so that you don’t have to deal with the cognitive dissonance.

    • NativeAmericanWoman

      This x1000
      The movie doesn’t even try to tell the real story. The real Pocahontas was married off as a teen to a white settler, sent as a poster child to the “old” world to show how “civilized” the natives could be if dressed up like white people and dead by age 22.
      Yeah, that is a great role model for your little girl.
      I suppose people think she sang to the trees and danced in the forest with the woodland critters too…. Because, you know, “indians”.

    • ElleJai

      I thought she sang to the trees and danced in the forest because everyone does. I certainly did as a child so it wasn’t “Indians” to me, it was “people”.

    • jyladvik

      It was common for most people back then to marry as teenagers! Didn’t you know that life expectancies were much shorter back then? People got married very early in life, in ALL cultures back then. It was also extremely common for teenage girls to be married off to much older men.

    • NativeAmericanWoman

      This x1000
      The movie doesn’t even try to tell the real story. The real Pocahontas was married off as a teen to a white settler, sent as a poster child to the “old” world to show how “civilized” the natives could be if dressed up like white people and dead by age 22.
      Yeah, that is a great role model for your little girl.
      I suppose people think she sang to the trees and danced in the forest with the woodland critters too…. Because, you know, “indians”.

    • NativeAmericanWoman

      This x1000
      The movie doesn’t even try to tell the real story. The real Pocahontas was married off as a teen to a white settler, sent as a poster child to the “old” world to show how “civilized” the natives could be if dressed up like white people and dead by age 22.
      Yeah, that is a great role model for your little girl.
      I suppose people think she sang to the trees and danced in the forest with the woodland critters too…. Because, you know, “indians”.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      Can’t I love a movie, but recognize that it’s completely historically inaccurate and wrong, and teach my kids that it is, but that it has pretty songs? And maybe use that as a point to talk about stuff? Kid movies are not known for their accuracy. But I can’t be evil for liking Pocahontas. I am pretty up on my history, and I know my ancestors might well have done some bad shit, BUT I AM NOT them, either. And there’s not too terribly much I can do about it now.

    • A-nony-mous

      Then it’s your job as the parent to steer your child away from it and your parents should’ve taken the time to correct you or stopped you from dressing like her. I love a couple songs from the movie but I would never allow my child to dress up in that costume just like I wouldn’t let them dress up like a Nazi or pretend that Princess Jasmine is what Arab women dress and act like because that is yet another racist caricature.

      So yes, knowing that something is wrong and allowing your child to do it anyway and trying to justify it, to me, DOES make you racist.

  • Simone

    I could not agree more. As an Australian, our background of colonial imperialism is similar: we have also come close to eradicating the first inhabitants of our country, the Indigenous Australians, who comprised the oldest continuous culture in the world in a land of unbelievable climatic extremes. Today our indigenous population has a life expectancy some thirty years less than Caucasians and are imprisoned at a rate some five times as frequently as whites – it’s known in some circles as ‘gentle genocide’, wherein we placidly wait for this ethnic group to die out as a result of our racist and exclusionary policies. Until the 1960′s, Indigenous Australians weren’t permitted to vote, and my grandparents had an Indigenous ‘housegirl’ who slept on the kitchen floor.

    Dressing up as an Indigenous person would horrify most people here – it just wouldn’t be done, for more reasons than I have enough brain to elaborate. Similarly, bastardising the Amerindian culture for a fun and thoughtless costume is incredibly insensitive and offensive.

    For anyone who is interested, comedian Rich Hall has an excellent commentary on this issue in his documentary about creating the American Indian.

    • ElleJai

      I call bull that it would horrify most people. Most people are the ones I hear telling “jokes” involving welfare and petrol, using horrific slurs to refer to Aboriginals, or almost worst of all, looking down on them with “benevolent racism” . Otherwise perfectly normal seeming people seem to froth at the brain when the Indigenous culture arises in conversation.

      I’ve had to yell at, walk away from, and unfriend people repeatedly for casual racism. Mind you, I only got to yelling after repeated attempts to hold a civil discussion, and I was normally yelling “I DO NOT HAVE TO LISTEN TO THIS IGNORANT CRAP. I’M LEAVING.”

      Most white people I know have a serious blind spot when it comes to race privilege, and if the last three national racism discussions didn’t alert you, apparently “not intended to be racist” is the same thing as “not racist” and then they get offended that anyone would dare to be offended!

  • St. Ends

    On one hand I understand but there is apart of me that thinks anyone should be allowed to wear whatever they want regardless of race or gender. I am certainly not going to tell thousands of little girls (and boys) that their skin is too dark (or they are the wrong sex) to be Snow White this Halloween.

    If I see people dressed as clergy, nuns, popes, saints, etc. I could honestly care less. No one is banning witch costumes, who were hunted, tortured, and murdered. I can comprehend how it is offensive to wear something that is supposed to be authentic Native American clothing and not be Native American, but what if you want to truly be because you find it magnificent? So would it be appropriate for them to dress like in the image above (almost nude)? Which by the way I am sure is not how all Native peoples dressed considering there were 500 or more different tribes, many living in cold regions.

    When I was a little girl I would braid my hair every “thanksgiving” and place beaded ribbons and feathers in my braids to wear to dinner and be mournful that people celebrated a time when settlers basically stole, killed, and raped. Are you telling me I was racist for doing so because my skin isn’t the right color? I am sure you’re not but I am trying to get a point across, and that is where are the lines? We tell our kids they can be anything, but something’s are racist, if you’re white?

    My daughter dressed as a geisha when she was younger. I hand made her kimono and properly adorned her hair because she loves Japan. I own a true vintage kimono from Japan myself. I also own beautiful gowns from India as well. My skin is as pale as it gets and I feel beautiful when I wear these things because they come from places I deeply admire. I didn’t realize there was a non-spoken rule that I ‘m not allowed to because of my color.
    I don’t know my own heritage because of adoption and am not about to carry guilt from what selfish, murderous, beasts did before me. They are not me. Their acts of evil are their own. I believe we all descended from the same African parents 200,000 years ago and anyone can be anything they please. So while the costumes may not be historically accurate is it really fair to judge people by their skin color and say they are not allowed to dress in any native or cultural costume because doing so is racist?

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      “So would it be appropriate for them to dress like in the image above (almost nude)? Which by the way I am sure is not how all Native peoples dressed considering there were 500 or more different tribes, many living in cold regions.” – No, because my point was that Pocahontas most likely dressed in a similar fashion. And the current popular costumes aren’t even close to how native people dressed, least of all Pocahontas. None of this is about he color of anyone’s skin. Native people also came in many shades when it came to skin color. We aren’t all “brown” or “red.” I think thou dost protest too much.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      “So would it be appropriate for them to dress like in the image above (almost nude)? Which by the way I am sure is not how all Native peoples dressed considering there were 500 or more different tribes, many living in cold regions.” – No, because my point was that Pocahontas most likely dressed in a similar fashion. And the current popular costumes aren’t even close to how native people dressed, least of all Pocahontas. None of this is about he color of anyone’s skin. Native people also came in many shades when it came to skin color. We aren’t all “brown” or “red.” I think thou dost protest too much.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      “So would it be appropriate for them to dress like in the image above (almost nude)? Which by the way I am sure is not how all Native peoples dressed considering there were 500 or more different tribes, many living in cold regions.” – No, because my point was that Pocahontas most likely dressed in a similar fashion. And the current popular costumes aren’t even close to how native people dressed, least of all Pocahontas. None of this is about he color of anyone’s skin. Native people also came in many shades when it came to skin color. We aren’t all “brown” or “red.” I think thou dost protest too much.

    • Simone

      ‘Is it really fair to judge people by their skin colour and say they are not allowed to dress in any native or cultural costume because doing so is racist?’.

      You’re not creating a sound argument here. The problem with white Americans dressing kids in cheap stereotyped versions of what white Americans think Native American culture looks like is much more complex than you make it out to be.

      Dressing a little girl up in the traditional clothing of a Dutch girl, for want of a better analogy, is unlikely to be perceived as racist because white settlers did not invade the homeland of the Dutch culture and attempt to kill all the Dutch people. That is what white settlers did in America. It is because of the history of interaction between the Native American peoples and the colonising white settlers that the costume is racist and deeply offensive. You don’t get to try to wipe out an entire nation and then light-heartedly create a cheap knockoff of their culture to parade your wealthy privileged white kids around in. It’s a bit of a slap in the face, don’t you think?

    • Simone

      ‘Is it really fair to judge people by their skin colour and say they are not allowed to dress in any native or cultural costume because doing so is racist?’.

      You’re not creating a sound argument here. The problem with white Americans dressing kids in cheap stereotyped versions of what white Americans think Native American culture looks like is much more complex than you make it out to be.

      Dressing a little girl up in the traditional clothing of a Dutch girl, for want of a better analogy, is unlikely to be perceived as racist because white settlers did not invade the homeland of the Dutch culture and attempt to kill all the Dutch people. That is what white settlers did in America. It is because of the history of interaction between the Native American peoples and the colonising white settlers that the costume is racist and deeply offensive. You don’t get to try to wipe out an entire nation and then light-heartedly create a cheap knockoff of their culture to parade your wealthy privileged white kids around in. It’s a bit of a slap in the face, don’t you think?

    • Simone

      ‘Is it really fair to judge people by their skin colour and say they are not allowed to dress in any native or cultural costume because doing so is racist?’.

      You’re not creating a sound argument here. The problem with white Americans dressing kids in cheap stereotyped versions of what white Americans think Native American culture looks like is much more complex than you make it out to be.

      Dressing a little girl up in the traditional clothing of a Dutch girl, for want of a better analogy, is unlikely to be perceived as racist because white settlers did not invade the homeland of the Dutch culture and attempt to kill all the Dutch people. That is what white settlers did in America. It is because of the history of interaction between the Native American peoples and the colonising white settlers that the costume is racist and deeply offensive. You don’t get to try to wipe out an entire nation and then light-heartedly create a cheap knockoff of their culture to parade your wealthy privileged white kids around in. It’s a bit of a slap in the face, don’t you think?

    • A-nony-mous

      It’s not based on skin color. It’s based on the predatory interactions of white people who now go on to believe it’s their continued right to discriminate, belittle, insult and joke about the destruction and racism they’ve brought. Just because it wasn’t you personally doesn’t absolve you of YOUR actions in continuing this.

      That’s like saying that because I myself am not Jewish that it’s my right to dress up as Nazi and that no one should be offended and any portrayal, no matter how pigheaded and wrong and stupidly inaccurate, is just fine because all that matters is my INTENT and not my actions.

      If your intent is so good then you should take a few minutes to actually educate yourself about something and you’d quickly realize how it was so wrong and insulting without it having to be explained. You wouldn’t WANT to wear all that junk. When you start trying to justify racist stereotypes any argument about your “honest and loving intent” goes out the window.

    • whiteroses

      It’s racist because most people have no idea whatsoever what those costumes mean. The ability to wear a war bonnet, for example, had to be earned. The fact that people think they can buy one and wear it for Halloween is, in fact, offensive- no matter your motivations.
      One of my great-grandmothers was a full blooded Muscogee. There’s also Nermurnuh in my family. I don’t consider myself Native because I don’t participate in either culture (and they are very separate) and never have. Conversely- my sister in law is Japanese. I can wear all the kimonos I want, but I have no real understanding of what it means to BE Japanese and never will. My husband is 1/4 Maori and hipster tribal tattoos based on Maori designs drive him nuts, because moko actually MEANS something to him. I think moko is beautiful, but I would never get one, because that’s not my culture and I consider it disrespectful to use elements from someone else’s culture- especially when they’re sacred- to bolster your own sense of self.
      Yes- some things are racist just because you’re white. Like blackface. And dressing up as a people white America has done its damndest to subjugate.

    • whiteroses
    • whiteroses
  • KaeTay

    I am currently at the end of my History of Native Americans course that I chose so I understand the trouble that native americans are STILL facing today (like fighting to be recognized). I really don’t see a problem in the costume itself. It’s best that if they wear the costume to educate along with it. You could easily show her what native american “princesses” actually used to wear.

    An outfit isn’t that big of a deal; proper education though is.

    • Simone

      A proper education is indeed a wonderful thing. I hope you pursue yours further.

    • Simone

      WHAT? WHAT’D I SAY??

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      I didn’t downvote you, but I think whoever did read your comment as being like the Southern version of “bless her heart.” I did at first too, but then I figured you didn’t mean it that way.

    • A-nony-mous

      But there’s no educational value in Halloween costumes, so what’s the point? Nobody is going to sit through a history lesson on Halloween, nor read a booklet attached to costumes.

      Why not just accept that these costumes are now the 2000s version of African American blackface and not wear it instead of constantly trying to justify the wearing of it?

  • Jadie

    interesting! :)

  • pixie

    I did my undergrad in North-Western Ontario in a city highly populated with First Nations (Ojibwe). On halloween I would see multiple young native children dressed in their dance regalia as their costume. I guess because of the area their clothing covers them pretty much head-to-toe, there’s not much issue with nudity. I’m just wondering how other commenters would feel about that. Is it ok for the ojibwe children to dress up in (authentic) native costumes or not? If the little native child had a friend of another ethnicity who had grown up immersed in the native culture and borrowed another costume and they went out together, would that be ok? I’m honestly just curious.
    I loved learning about the vibrant culture in school and through my experiences living in that area. It made me sad whenever I encountered the “stereotype” (still does, because even where I live now unfortunately has its share of stereotypes) and was horrified as a child when I learned about what colonists did.

    • Rachel Sea

      Dressing up in the regalia of your own culture is a celebration (personally I’m wearing a dirndl for Halloween, my Oma and Opa would be very pleased). Whether to share it with non-member intimates is up to the members of the culture, they would know what is and isn’t appropriate.

    • pixie

      Thanks for actually answering me, I was genuinely curious. I didn’t think it would be offensive, but I’m open to being educated on issues like this.

    • Paul White

      The problem is that I doubt there’s a unanimous decision made by members of any given culture.

    • Rachel Sea

      No, but in many cultures there are guidelines specific enough to give a reasonable framework. When in doubt you consult with whoever within your group functions as a guardian of your culture.

    • Paul White

      I have to confess I find the idea of having a “guardian of my culture” incredibly grotesque–not so much for this, but for the suggestion that cultures need to be steered and guarded from change (see some of France’s cultural laws…blech). Also, I’m not at all sure there *is* such an individual in a lot of cultures. Who’se the guardian of Irish culture? Who’s the guardian of culture for any extinct tribe, or for Russia? Ah well.

    • Rachel Sea

      There are negative connotations in some places, but the work of remembering dying languages, and ancient artforms is a vocation which can’t always just be passed down through families. Some groups have elders, some have religious leaders, anthropologists many have lots of people who do the work of remembering who they have been.

    • Paul White

      Honestly, I wouldn’t have a problem with *authentic* representations. It’s the crappy, stereotypical ones (that are frequently sexualized) that bother me. If someone tookt he time to dress up like an *actual* Ojibwa, or Karank, or any other tribe I’d think it was cool

    • pixie

      I always thought it was interesting and quite something when I saw little ojibwe children dressed in authentic dance regalia. If I’d given out candy, I would’ve given then extras for celebrating their culture.

    • whiteroses

      I agree with this. If it’s your culture, then it’s not offensive by any stretch. The sexualized cheapo costumes bug me.

  • pixie

    I did my undergrad in North-Western Ontario in a city highly populated with First Nations (Ojibwe). On halloween I would see multiple young native children dressed in their dance regalia as their costume. I guess because of the area their clothing covers them pretty much head-to-toe, there’s not much issue with nudity. I’m just wondering how other commenters would feel about that. Is it ok for the ojibwe children to dress up in (authentic) native costumes or not? If the little native child had a friend of another ethnicity who had grown up immersed in the native culture and borrowed another costume and they went out together, would that be ok? I’m honestly just curious.
    I loved learning about the vibrant culture in school and through my experiences living in that area. It made me sad whenever I encountered the “stereotype” (still does, because even where I live now unfortunately has its share of stereotypes) and was horrified as a child when I learned about what colonists did.

  • pixie

    I did my undergrad in North-Western Ontario in a city highly populated with First Nations (Ojibwe). On halloween I would see multiple young native children dressed in their dance regalia as their costume. I guess because of the area their clothing covers them pretty much head-to-toe, there’s not much issue with nudity. I’m just wondering how other commenters would feel about that. Is it ok for the ojibwe children to dress up in (authentic) native costumes or not? If the little native child had a friend of another ethnicity who had grown up immersed in the native culture and borrowed another costume and they went out together, would that be ok? I’m honestly just curious.
    I loved learning about the vibrant culture in school and through my experiences living in that area. It made me sad whenever I encountered the “stereotype” (still does, because even where I live now unfortunately has its share of stereotypes) and was horrified as a child when I learned about what colonists did.

  • CW

    If a non-Irish child wanted to dress up in an Irish step dance costume and a red wig, I wouldn’t get offended- I’d think it cute. Stop playing the victim and recognize a bit of innocent Halloween fun as simply that.

    • CW

      Oh, and we Irish were plenty oppressed ourselves back 100 years ago but you don’t hear us going around still playing the victim.

    • A-nony-mous

      Not in the way Natives were, not even close. Not comparable.

    • Roberta

      I am part Irish too. How are those Irish reservations that are poorly maintained and filled with systemic poverty throughout the US?

    • CW

      How about the millions of Irish who died of starvation while their English oppressors exported food from the country? How about all the Irish who died building the railroads because they were seen as “expendable”? What about the “No Irish Need Apply” signs that used to be prevalent here in the U.S.? The Irish absolutely faced oppression and discrimination even if they don’t get much attention in the history books.

    • Rachel Sea

      The Famine doesn’t get space in American history books because it isn’t American history. The Irish don’t get any special attention when it comes to discrimination because they weren’t discriminated against more than any other immigrant group. People have historically hated EVERY group that comes over in large numbers without conquering a large swath of the continent.

    • whiteroses

      Yep. Then one of them- a Catholic, no less- became President. After that, the Irish didn’t seem like such a huge deal anymore. Funny how that works. And I’m speaking as someone who owes her American citizenship to the Famine, by and large.

    • Rachel Sea

      Um, yes, we do still hear about it. I hear about it every time I go to a bar containing one or more Northern Irish immigrants. Also you just mentioned it, so I just heard about it here too.

      And Irish-Americans are now considered white, and no longer face the systematic oppression that Native groups still do.

    • whiteroses

      You don’t exactly see “NINA” signs in shop windows these days. And having a name like “Peggy O’Brian” doesn’t automatically relegate you to being a maid or a washerwoman.

      Yet, there are still Native reservations. Do you see where we’re going with this?

    • keelhaulrose

      But would you be offended if they dressed up as a “dirty Irishman” who is carrying around a liquor bottle and a sack of potatoes and trying to fight everyone?
      There is honorable portrayals, and offensive portrayals, and our society have, in the past, managed to say ‘no’ to certain offensive costumes: blackface, “wetback”, etc.

    • Paul White

      I’d laugh at it. And I’m Irish/Scottish/Amer-Indian.

    • Emmali Lucia

      Irish women aren’t three times more likely to be raped than the general public.

      Yeah. The amount of Native women who get raped is about 43%, do you still feel the same way about the “Poke-a-hottie” costume now?

    • CW

      My objection to a “Poke-a-hottie” costume would be the same as any other risque costume- that it objectifies women and reduces their value to nothing more than their bodies on display for men to leer at.

    • Emmali Lucia

      Isn’t that every Halloween costume out there though? I mean let’s just be honest, if you’re not a plus size (And even if you are!) the costumes available to you under $100 are cheaply made and very revealing.

      I bought a nice pirate costume for like $80, I still can’t bend over in it, and it still shows off a little cleavage. But it covers much more than any other costume in the store.

    • NYBondLady

      So, are we supposed to rank costumes according to which represented group is more likely to get raped??

    • sri

      Are you being purposefully dense, or do you really not get how taking a group that is statistically more likely to be sexually assaulted than the average and then we sexualizing them might be problematic? One of the more pernicious stereotypes is the wanton savage woman which, especially when reinforced by the sexualized costume, leads to a high incidence of rape. I have a similar problem with a lot of the “sexy stereotype” costumes, but this one is one of the worst. We don’t have to rank the groups by sexual assault rates, we should stop sexualizing and making fetishes of marginalized groups for white entertainment, full stop.

    • sri

      Damn phone, how did that stray we get in there. Anyway, I think my point was pretty clear. The majority group in power shouldn’t sexualize a marginalized group for their own entertainment, especially not a group that is more likely to be raped than the general population.

    • ElleJai

      Wait a sec, hold the costume discussion (we’ll come back to it in a moment)… How is the sexual assault rate so low* that 43% is high? Because it’s estimated around here that 3 out of 4 women will be sexually assaulted in some way during her lifetime. I can actually count on one hand the amount of women I know who haven’t been assaulted (including a large Irish Catholic family filled with aunts and cousins).

      So what’s the accepted statistic for everyone else, and what is the estimate regarding under-reporting?

      *Note: I’m using “low” not in terms of “doesn’t happen much” or low as in “good target to aim for”, just that 43% is about half of what I normally expect to see when people say “high”…

    • Emmali Lucia

      Where the hell do you live?!

      In the US the rate of getting raped is somewhere between 1 in 4 and 1 in 5.

    • ElleJai

      Is that taking into account the lack of reporting, or is that merely the “officially reported” statistic?

    • EmmaliCantLogInMrsTorrance

      Here in the US we have this database that goes around and asks people about the crimes that happened to them that they didn’t report to the authorities. That’s how we have our “Only 46% of victims come foward to the police” statistic. I’m pretty sure the RAINN.org statistic includes the ones reported through the database but not police reports

    • ElleJai

      That suggests that over 50% of rapes go unreported. That would possibly bring the figure up closer to where I’d expect.

      They’re also using a much narrower definition of rape than I do. Theirs seems to include purely penetration, but sexual assault is a much broader spectrum.

    • VA Teacher

      Would you have the same reply to an African-American offended by blackface?

  • Katia

    Well it’s not “fair” that some cultural outfits are offensive and some are not. But it’s pretty common sense what’s offensive and what isn’t. Ongoing issues that haven’t stopped since colonization? Safe to say that’s offensive enough not to wear. Hitler? Offensive as he may have killed relatives of people you know. Random African tribal look? Africa/the west also has ongoing issues since colonization /slavery. The ever popular Geisha? Probably only offensive to Asian Americans who have experienced racism in North America. Not really sure if people mind it. My French friend was a geisha and we were with a group of people, including a Japanese woman married to a white man and a few Chinese people, everyone is still good friends. So maybe the difference is that we have not attacked and ruined Japan, other than the horrific bombing, but that was a retaliation and Japan and the west have been really friendly for decades. Other than the whaling thing.
    German, Spanish, Irish costumes, etc? It think its always possible that one person could be offended. Those who aren’t personally offended may wonder about your judgement. It probably depends how you pull it off too. My geisha costume friend is a very warm and funny person (she wasn’t being funny or ridiculous as a geisha though) so people probably forgave her easily or assumed she just didn’t see the offensive potential of the idea. I Would love to hear thoughts of people of eAst Asian descent on this. For the record, I can’t see myself doing an ethnic costume. Maybe French maid but I am part French. Also Scandinavian/German maiden? Can I do that?

    • Spiderpigmom

      “Maybe French maid but I am part French”: you… do realize that a “French maid” costume doesn’t remotely resemble any ancillary uniform from anywhere, let alone France… Don’t you?

    • Rachel Sea

      Yeah, “French Maid” is a fetish costume which originated with the Victorians, and which was adopted by French prostitutes. The British had a bit of a hard-on for French domestic staff and waiters.

    • Katia

      Have you seen Francois ozon’s lovely musical film “8 women”? There’s a maid (everyone is French) and she wears that outfit…

    • Rachel Sea

      Yes, but that’s a modern film. That the fetish has been normalized does not make it a French cultural tradition. There is nothing inherently French about it, except maybe in that the French have waaaay fewer hangups about sex.

  • http://sieuthicua.info/ caothanhtrung87

    Indian costume distinctive and unique

    http://sieuthicua.info

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    First off, I fully agree about dressing as Indians or black people as racist. Don’t do it.

    But I disagree on one point, and I’m going to be long-winded here because I’ve invested not an inconsiderable amount of time studying geisha. Dressing as a geisha (Or maiko) is not racist, inherently. It certainly can be, but I think it can be done right.

    A geisha is a profession. They’re artists who have cultivated traditional Japanese artistry into their everyday lives, through dance and music. They’re skilled conversationalists, and their very persons are works of art. They’re not sex workers. They have their own subcultural that is matriarchal. They’re incredibly misunderstood.

    There are only a handful of real geisha left. In some geisha districts (Notably Miyagawa-cho) you can be dressed as a geisha for the experience and have your photo taken, though you aren’t allowed to pretend to be a real geisha because you won’t do it right and geisha don’t want outsiders seeing your clumsy ass and thinking you’re the real deal. You’re only allowed to step into the shoes, so to speak.

    Now, dressing as a hot spring geisha, a “sexy” geisha, or a bastardized Western idea of a geisha as a giggling submissive prostitute, or buying the geisha in a bag costume for $49.95? Okay, no dice. That’s just rude. Dressing up as “Japanese”, the way people dress up as “Indian”? Racist. But putting on the uniform dress of a profession unique from another country isn’t racist by virtue of the fact it’s Japanese and you’re not. Japan has a few dead and iconic professions: ninja, samurai, and soon, geisha. I’d be hard pressed to consider a ninja costume racist.

    There’s a considerable difference in dressing up as an Asian stereotype, some facsimile of a geisha, and actually honing in on a real Japanese icon and doing it right. One is mockery and the other is showing appreciation.

    I think the real problem is people who don’t know what geisha are and dressing up as a hootchie version. That is racism for the reason Indian costumes are.

    • Simone

      I agree.

    • A-nony-mous

      I believe the difference is that white people didn’t invade Japan and wipe out the vast majority of Japanese people in horrendous genocides spanning hundreds and hundreds of years that continues to this very day.

      Being a white American and dressing up as an atomic-bomb burnt Hiroshima or Nagasaki victim would be more accurate than a comparison to a Geisha.

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      Oh Christ, yes. That would be disgusting. Or dressing as a Japanese person in an internment camp. Or throwing on a Conical hat and Confucius beard and saying you’re Asian. All better comparisons.
      Dressing as a geisha (Geisha means artist, by the way) properly would be time consuming and expensive, and only someone who’s studied their customs and history (And has resources) could pull it off. But then, those people wouldn’t be fetishizing or exploiting, but truly appreciating and honouring.

      Actually, in geisha districts dressing in full traditional geisha dress is acceptable (And marketed) because it’s dying out and it’s a way to keep the imagery alive. There are two rules to follow: One, don’t throw something together and call it geisha because that’s an insult. Two, if you do it right, don’t pretend to be the real McCoy. (Actually, when you dress as a geisha through a company, which is likely the only way to get it completely right, if you go out you are accompanied by someone to make sure you don’t fool anyone into thinking you’re an actual geisha or maiko).

  • Byron

    “Generic Indian themed costumes aren’t okay and neither are ones
    depicting fictional or historical characters because they are all based
    on inaccurate stereotypes of native peoples.”

    You do know what “fiction” means, right? You’re complaining about fiction not being real. You’re complaining about fiction being inaccurate. Newsflash, fiction is fiction! It was never supposed to be those things. Fiction is make-believe. Make-believe based on appropriation of real things or interepretations or elements of real things in combination with other things from the imagination of the creator of the fiction.

    You don’t see Romanian nationals protesting about peolpe dressing up as Dracula. You don’t see them whining about how not all of them wear capes or are this pale and about how innacurate of a depiction the costume is.

    It is simply irrational to deman of fiction to conform to reality. It is needlessly restricting and harmful to the creativity and imagination of a whole speecies. All you have to do is consider the costume one based on a “character”, rather than the real actual natives. You can see Pochahontas costumes like you see Superman costumes. They’re characters in a fictional story who have elements borrowed from stuff. It was never intended to be an accurate description in the first place, it was only ever intended to be fun. Fun! You remember fun? Haha, good times, that stuff? I’m sure it’s coming back to you. Stop being so serious and let the kids throw plastic tomahawks and yelp like in the cartoons and have a blast. They’ll grow up and be boring and overly sensitive quickly enough.

    • Blueathena623

      Oh good god. No one dresses up as Dracula and goes around saying “I’m dressed as a Romanian! Not Dracula, just a regular Romanian.”

    • A-nony-mous

      I’d argue with you but frankly I think it would be like talking to a brick wall. Suffice to say, I think you’re the new thread idiot. Comparing it to Superman and Kryptonians? Wow. And I thought the comparisons to other white groups was bad, at least they’re real.

    • Rachel Sea

      There is a huge sodding difference between a purely fictional character, and a historical fiction character. The latter is theoretically based on reality, and when that basis has a hugely racist bias, it’s offensive, because racism.

    • whiteroses

      One of the main problems with your analogy is that Pocahontas wasn’t fictional by a long shot. You can’t compare her with Superman or Dracula because she actually existed, she actually suffered at the hands of white people, and she actually died. I know it happened a really long time ago, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less real.
      Also- most fiction has elements of truth to it. Superman is completely plucked out of the air, but Dracula is based on Vlad the Impaler (once again, an actual historical figure). However, if you believe that vampires actually exist, then there’s nothing we can do for you and your argument is invalid.

  • Athena A

    I totally get it, sadly most people will never get it as they aren’t a minority and don’t realise they are doing anything wrong. I’ve seen a lot of costumes that I thought were totally offensive. At my secondary school we had something called ‘the 100 days’, it’s a big thing in Belgium, it’s the last 100 days before you graduate. There’s a celebration where the students do some sort of performance on stage for the school. The guys had the stupid idea of doing a mock on the Gestapo, the Nazi’s, like the show ‘Allo Allo’ a bit. I didn’t like it one bit, as my great-uncle died of starvation in a work camp because he was part of the resistance. Sadly I was unable to persuade them to change the subject, but I was able to get them to tone it down a lot and keep out offensive suggestions and keep it to ridiculing the Nazi’s.
    Kids won’t know there’s anything wrong with portraying a Native American unless someone tells them. Maybe they like dressing up as one because they love the culture and think they’re cool, but might not know that their outfit is incorrect and that it might seem offensive to actual Native Americans. More education at a younger age would be great, so that people who are interested in the culture can go about it the right way.

  • MosesHudson

    I think that Indian costume may be attractive and Mind Blowing .

    http://revoreplexgermany.net/

  • NYBondLady

    My son was going to being a bear for halloween because he loves bears. But now I have second thoughts because Americans have a long history of killing bears that dates back to colonial times. So then I thought he might be a farmer, easy enough, right?. But then I realized that farmers stole all the land from the Indians so that would be insensitive too, you know, glorifying such a horrid group of people that exploit land for their own use and make GMO foods and cater to Monsanto and what not. So maybe a football player? Ah shit, his favorite player is RGIII, who plays for a racist team called the R**skins and my son is white to boot. Damn it, ghost it is.

    • sri

      The fact that you don’t see a huge difference between the literal and cultural genocide of NA and wild animals really says a lot about you as a person. Usually, I do try to at least be civil, but you just compared a group of people who have been massively massively mistreated, having their land taken, their culture erased, and being killed en masse to actual animals. I mean, come on. I used to think maybe you weren’t a troll, because you sound like my conservative family members, but you actually just compared Native Americans to bears. I just. I just can’t with you.

    • whiteroses

      An animal and a human being are not the same thing.

  • alwaysmoving

    I can’t believe no one on this thread has recognized the real point here. Yes, you, and anyone else, are completely entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to write articles and blog posts until your fingers fall off. You are not entitled to tell anyone else what they may or may not do in order to protect your delicate sensibilities. If you don’t like a costume, don’t wear it, don’t look at it, don’t talk to the person. Or maybe do talk to them, politely, and ask if they would like to learn more about your culture. But if you are really so concerned about the completely terrible status of native Americans, why are you blathering on about children’s costumes instead of doing something about it? Put your money where your mouth is and start a non-profit, or foundation. Work with an existing one to try to get NA history to be taught in schools. There are thousands of more productive and realistic things to do besides hypocritically complaining about a costume.

    • Rachel Sea

      Look: no one is telling you what you can or can’t wear. What is being said is that if you wear a caricature of a marginalized ethnicity as a Halloween costume, you are perpetuating racism. Education about social issues, is not unproductive. If selling minority stereotypes stops being a lucrative business, then that will be one less racist thing.

      Social issues don’t all have to be dealt with exclusively in order of importance. Everyone has multiple different things they care about, and everyone has different quantities of bandwidth to dedicate to their issues. Fighting for equality is not an all-or-nothing endeavor, and there are more ways to advocate than starting a foundation. Starting a conversation, getting people to be thoughtful about stereotypes is a very important part of reducing racist acts, particularly acts committed in ignorance.

      Additionally, telling a member of a minority group that caring about being discriminated against is just because of “delicate sensibilities” is a SUPER racist thing to say.

    • ElleJai

      It strikes me as super white. We all* think that way. Hell, I think that way, although I’ve gotten better in the last six months and hope I can achieve a lack of accidental racism by virtue of being white and stupid sometime in the next century. I’m working towards it, anyway.

      *I’m referring here to the people I know or have met, and in some cases read. There are exceptions to every rule, it’s merely an unfortunate** racial trait that needs to be remedied.

      **By which I mean “sad that it exists” rather than “minor inconvenience”.

    • Simone

      The personal is political. Individual actions are representative of wider forces than one person’s choice, and if the discourse around native Americans was respectful, informed, and restorative, these costumes would be more widely perceived as the insult they are.

      Social problems aren’t as easily ended by just ‘not looking at it, not wearing it’. Your description of the writer as ‘hypocritically complaining’ is belittling and shows a narrow and very individualistic perspective.

    • whiteroses

      There’s also the idea that those who are Native don’t NEED white people to “honor” their culture. They honor it enough on their own.

  • Allie

    So sorry, but your culture (or at least a stereotype of same) has been appropriated by the Disney corporation and is now subject to copyright protection. Please direct your complaints to 1-800-BITEME. Hours of operation are 9-5 EST, with the exception of Columbus Day and Thanksgiving, when the complaints office is closed in honor of the triumphal conquest of this great land. Govern yourselves accordingly (no pun intended).

  • VA Teacher

    Compared to other minorities, Native Americans get no respect when attempting to combat racism. I believe this stems back to the general contempt and disregard that Native Americans received over the last 400 years. Their opinions just don’t count and since there are so few, who cares if a few people whine?

    The same people who write off Native Americans as “overly sensitive,” wouldn’t dare have the same reaction to an African-American protesting blackface, but since it’s “just” Native Americans, who cares? It’s just like the whole “Washington Redskins” argument. Because it’s just a few NA groups complaining, the majority of people just rant that people are “too PC” and refuse to admit it’s just like having a team called the “Nashville Negros” or the “Wichita Wetback.” THOSE would be inappropriate, but insulting “Injuns”? Pfff, get over it and donate to a charity. It’s very frustrating.

  • jyladvik

    Wear whatever Halloween costume you want to. Its just a holiday! People can wear whatever they want to, it is their freedom of expression they are entitled to as an American citizen.

    • Simone

      You’re a bit late. All the intelligent and reasoned responses to opinions such as yours can already be found further down the line.

      However, I really must say that yours is one of the more offensive and frankly idiotic attempts at an argument that I’ve seen here. Congratulations.

    • ElleJai

      Yes you do! There was a High Court case a few years back regarding what was and wasn’t tartan. And if you want to wear feathered headdresses, there are plenty of other options that don’t include another’s cultures equivalent of the purple heart.

    • AlbinoWino

      Go fuck yourself, troll

  • FF4life

    Am I the only one who’s finding the fact that this author refers to Native Americans as Indians and then goes onto condemn stereotypes? And while it would be ideal to have Pocahontas in authentic Native American dress it would not be a movie for children. Disney movies are rarely accurate to the stories they retell because most of those “children stories” have sexual themes.

    Native Americans are no more stereotyped then all other cultures. The Irish are drunks, the British have bad teeth, Canadians all play hockey and are never ill mannered and Americans are all fat. Native Americans are not alone in being stereotyped.

    When I think of all the adult humor costumes on the market perpetuating cultural stereotypes, I look at these children’s costumes and feel that they’re innocent. Children enjoy Native American culture and they don’t mean any harm by choosing these costumes for Halloween. No parent is going to send a child out trick or treating in actual period dress if it only includes strings over their genitalia.

    • whiteroses

      The difference with dressing up as an American, an Irishman, a Englishman, a Canadian… is that none of those cultures were/are systematically slaughtered and/or had their own culture taken away. You don’t see little American children taken away from their parents by force and put into special schools where the sole purpose is to teach them to be “civilized”. You don’t see Irishmen herded onto reservations. You don’t see Canadians being deliberately infected with disease so that we can take their land.

      The costumes may have innocent intentions- but that doesn’t make them right. You can no more dress up as a generic Native American for Halloween than you can dress up as a generic American- because the Native American culture is so vast that boiling it down to a single outfit is insulting. If it’s not your culture, why do you need to “celebrate” it?

      And also- dressing up for the Renaissance faire isn’t offensive, because every.single.person. who was born in the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries is dead, and there’s enough time between the modern era and the Renaissance for us to be able to dress like them. There’s not a single person alive who was born in the Renaissance or knows anyone personally who was born in the Renaissance. Also- the Renaissance can’t really be considered cultural genocide. The same can’t be said of what white people did to Native Americans.

  • FF4life

    Teenagers I could care less about.. But I remember being a new parent and wanting to celebrate every single holiday that year. It wasn’t about the candy it was about the memory of having a little baby in a teddy bear costume for the pictures. I probably only went to a handful of houses with my daughter that year but it was still fun. It was like a reward for all those sleepless nights trying to console a colicky baby. It reminds you of the fun that’s to come.

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  • arosenb4

    Uhm, does that boy in the picture have a bunch of … “Indian burns” …. on his arms? Because…. That’s even more f’d up than usual.

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  • Louise

    Out of curiosity, based on the premise above, then wouldn’t it be Not okay for a child to dress in Any costume then? No viking, no gladiator, no princess, no fair maiden, no Robin Hood, no medieval, no pioneer, no nurse, no doctor, no cowboy, because the standard mainstream costumes for those cultures/careers/races are likely inaccurate as well. The thought that comes to mind is that children are not trying to accurately depict another culture or race when they dress up. Their imaginations are trying to see the world as cute and playful, and images of any culture they will see in their child friendly books are going to be cute and playful, so they do what children do and dress up as cute and playful with a lot of imagination that us adults are not part of. It doesn’t mean that when they grow older they won’t cross to the path of deeper knowledge about cultures and races and accurate history. Not trying to downplay anyone being upset about inaccurate costumes, but just offering another perspective.

  • AlbinoWino

    So if people specifically targeted your culture in an inaccurate way and then wore it as a costume for entertainment, you would be fine with it? You must be white.

  • Simone

    Invisible white privilege – making every other culture fair game for centuries.

  • NativeAmericanWoman

    Ridiculous. If a Native American person tells you that dressing as a Native American person is offensive to them then it is. And it is even more insulting since you are also telling them what to think. It is offensive because people are offended. That is not really up for debate. Way to miss the point though.

  • NativeAmericanWoman

    Ridiculous. If a Native American person tells you that dressing as a Native American person is offensive to them then it is. And it is even more insulting since you are also telling them what to think. It is offensive because people are offended. That is not really up for debate. Way to miss the point though.

  • NativeAmericanWoman

    Ridiculous. If a Native American person tells you that dressing as a Native American person is offensive to them then it is. And it is even more insulting since you are also telling them what to think. It is offensive because people are offended. That is not really up for debate. Way to miss the point though.

  • Suni

    Actually there is some costumes that are targeted at whites, such as white trailor trash and rednecks. I do not find them particularly offensive.

  • Suni

    Actually there is some costumes that are targeted at whites, such as white trailor trash and rednecks. I do not find them particularly offensive.

  • Suni

    Actually there is some costumes that are targeted at whites, such as white trailor trash and rednecks. I do not find them particularly offensive.

  • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

    Plenty of people do though. And I see why. So-called “rednecks” and “hillbillies” have also been targets of discrimination and bigotry.

  • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

    Plenty of people do though. And I see why. So-called “rednecks” and “hillbillies” have also been targets of discrimination and bigotry.

  • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

    Plenty of people do though. And I see why. So-called “rednecks” and “hillbillies” have also been targets of discrimination and bigotry.

  • keelhaulrose

    My husband is a small-town country boy, very “redneck”-ish. People from around where I live think this means he is stupid, gun-toting, dirty, drunk, and backwards-thinking. He is an intelligent man who does do “redneck” activities like mud racing and such, but he’s not what the costumes depict.

  • A-nony-mous

    Not comparable to say that people make fun of rednecks. “Rednecks” are the dominant culture still.

  • Muggle

    Depends on where you are, really. They’re certainly not the dominant culture outside of the rural South, but whites in general very much are like everywhere in the US.

    But this is a very good point. While some depictions of rednecks/hillbillies/poor rural whites can be quite unfair, it’s not at all like basing your Halloween costume on a Disney movie or old TV shows that were never meant to be accurate portrayals of a non-white culture and then telling people from that culture that they’re just thin-skinned and need to get over it.

    Whites stereotyping each other is not nearly as offensive to anyone, even the whites being stereotyped, as whites stereotyping non-whites. Unless the stereotyped whites are very ignorant and privileged.