Perspective | Carolyn Hax: How to not get dressed down at Halloween


Murky: It’s actually not that murky, I don’t think.

Do dress up as something. Do not dress up as a member of a race, ethnicity or culture of which you are not a member.

And when in doubt, ask yourself, is this hurting or foreseeably insulting anyone, mocking anyone or condescending to anyone?

It’s not perfect, but it’s well-meaning without everyone having to be an M&M.

Re: Costumes: You can absolutely comprehend it, if you take time to read/hear and understand the offense. There’s even a catchy slogan: “My Culture Is Not Your Costume.”

Re: Costumes: Also: Is your costume neutral, or does it punch up or down? If it punches down, that’s a solid no-go. Google to see the foreclosure firm whose employees dressed up as homeless people. Punching up may also be a problem, but punching down always will be.

Anonymous: Yesssss. I was trying to figure out a way to explain why, for example, “hobo” is not a culture but also not an option. But I couldn’t get there, so I skipped it. “Don’t punch down.” Simple, elegant, clear. Thank you.

Re: Costumes: What I’m getting is: Teach your kids about respecting all cultures, but when they want to emulate that culture (in a respectful way), tell them they can’t because they aren’t that culture. Talk about mixed messages.

Anonymous: Wait, no. The unmixed message is that Halloween-costume treatment does not meet the standard of “in a respectful way.” It’s not a parenthetical; it’s the point.

Re: Costumes: What about dressing up as a pirate, a witch, a fireman, a football player . . . when you’re definitely not part of the culture of any of these. A pumpkin? Is that okay? Tell us what sorts of costumes ARE okay for Halloween.

What About: You are being deliberately obtuse. Stop.

Re: Costumes: This reminds me of the men who think the #MeToo movement will prevent them from ever having a professional relationship with a woman. “Woe is me, how can we possibly understand what is to be expected of us!”

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