IF YOU WERE WONDERING ABOUT HOW TO APPROPRIATELY DRESS UP AS A NATIVE FOR HALLOWEEN…
Who am I to be so bossy? Nobody really, just a person entitled to their opinion. Just as those of you who really, really need to don a Pochahottie costume, a Mexican sombrero or geisha garb are free to do so…
Y’all can do whatever you want really. All I’m saying is that you’ve got to expect a little back-lash from some. I’m going to go so far as to say that it might do this world a solid if some of you eye-rollers would consider what someone like me, and others, have to say.
Personally, I’m not feeling oppressed in the least by taking questionable costume ideas off of my must wear Halloween costume bucket list. I’m completely alright with not wearing something that might offend someone else, or a whole culture for that matter. What is it about the backwards thought process wherein a person feels so deeply ‘connected’ to wanting to wear a Native Headdress for example, that causes them to feel like their freedom of expression is being trampled on when someone dares to express how offensive they might find it?
Lets Take a Look At Why Dressing Up as a Native IS Offensive, Cultural Appropriation
No matter how much you might loooove our culture and our ways, the simple fact of the matter is that a large majority of Native costumes do not represent Indigenous cultures authentically in the least. A staggering amount of them are down-right preposterous, sexually objectifying monstrosities. For the smaller percentage of wannabe warriors and princesses who really are smitten with Native culture and want to represent it in a positive way, the thing is…wearing a headdress is a deeply spiritual and profound piece of ceremonial and traditional/religious wear. It’s just NOT a costume, plain and simple. If you can’t wrap your head around that or have no desire to respect it – just know that. All of the responses of, ‘Oh! I didn’t know!’ Or, ‘Oh, I didn’t mean to offend anyone’, are kind of lame. I mean, I’m less concerned with hurting someone’s feelings who ‘really didn’t mean to’, than voicing my truth. I’m more concerned with what we teach our children, than hurting a grown adult’s feelings who dressed their kid (or themselves), up as a ‘Native Princess’ or ‘Warrior’ for Halloween. I’d rather open up some dialogue about it, than keep my mouth shut because somehow I’m the jerk for saying something. If it’s such a sensitive subject for the headdress costume curators, think for a minute how sensitive of a subject it must be for us.
No, We Don’t All Have To Agree
For me, and many others, aside from the appropriation aspect, there is this: Indigenous issues the world over are still far too present, far too fresh and misunderstood for it to be ‘okay.’ I get that this is a hard concept to accept. It squashes out tons of Halloween costume ideas, perpetuated by the concept that society somehow feels a right and an ownership to (mis)represent minority cultures in the name of fun. Other cultures, which – during the rest of the year are bashed for their beliefs and ways of life. I’m particularly speaking about Native culture for obvious reasons. I’m part Native. If we’re not cool enough to respect in general, then yea – it’s offensive if all of a sudden come Halloween, we’re cool enough to mimic. I fully realize that there are a number of Native people who don’t have a problem with Halloween costumes appropriating their culture. That’s fine, we don’t have to all agree either. In politics or in what religion we choose to believe in.
Name me any other culture that stands in unison on all fronts. There are none. When I hear someone use this analogy to back-up their justification of costume choice, that because if all Native people don’t agree, then it must be okay…I roll MY eyes. Just like I roll my eyes when someone compares dressing up like a Native to dressing up as some random object, a cat, a dog or a zombie. That somehow everything must be offensive if dressing up as a Native is offensive. WEAK argument people. Just weak. The journey to de-colonizing our brains is and always will be hard and complicated. My main hope is that we engage in discourse, however awkward it may be, instead of shutting each-other down with ridiculous justifications.
Have a Happy Halloween. Really.