We hope that this email finds you well and gearing up for fall weather! We are writing with a few reminders as we head into the Halloween season. While Halloween is a magically fun time of dress up and make believe, it’s also critical that we practice empathy and ensure that the costumes we wear are appropriate.
While it is rare that costumes are chosen with malicious intentions, we caution you to consider intent versus impact. The impact of “dressing up” as people of other cultures, races, religions, etc. can be much greater than the intent. When people of diverse cultures, races, religions, etc. are positioned to be the “other” in our society (via dressing up and characterization), there are consequences that can reveal themselves in how said groups are treated, both systemically and interpersonally.
This Halloween season, in an effort to avoid the perpetuation of stereotypes, we suggest asking yourselves and your children the following questions as you consider costumes:
Are you using makeup to alter your natural skin tone?
Does your costume mock or appropriate cultural or religious symbols?
Does the name of your costume include an ethnicity in its title?
Are you wearing garments or accessories traditional to a culture?
Are you dressed as an offensive historical figure?
Is your costume funny because it makes light of human suffering, oppression, etc.?
Is your costume a stereotype of an entire culture or ethnicity?
Is your costume unkind towards people of any identity, with particular regard to race, gender, ethnicity, religion, and ability?
(Questions adapted from Friends School and from Ryerson Student Affairs)
If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you should likely reconsider your costume choice.
This video from Teen Vogue is also thought-provoking and offers unique perspectives about how costuming affects people.
Please reach out if you have any specific questions or concerns. Thank you for all that you do!
Akailah & Caroline
Director of Diversity and Inclusion
Head of School