Is Your Child's Halloween Costume Offensive? Here's How You Know

October 29, 2019


These days, people often complain that there's so much sensitivity in the world when it comes to topics like gender, race, culture, language and religion. However, all this sensitivity isn't "new". It's simply been brought to light due to some sad situations that I won't even begin to highlight here. Halloween is definitely not a new concept, but the sensitivity around costumes and if they're offensive may be new to some.


I read an article on Today's Parent that made me think twice about Halloween costumes this year. The last thing I want my children to do on a fun, exciting day like Halloween is to offend someone or make someone feel uncomfortable with their choice of costume. Today's Parent shared a very useful checklist for parents, to determine if their child's costume may be offensive; as weird as it may feel to use a checklist to determine if something is offensive or not, it really is helpful for parents who just don't know where to start when it comes to costume decisions. If you're a parent that's reading this who wants to know if their child's costume is offensive, kudos to you for being considerate!


Here are a few key points from Today's Parent to consider.


- Does the costume make reference to a culture that is not my own (e.g. a feather headdress which resembles a First Nations ceremonial headdress, a kimono, a turban)?


- Does the costume include spiritual or religious symbols?


- Does the costume require your kid to change the colour of their skin to resemble someone who is not from the same background as them?


- Does the costume’s packaging contain words like “tribal,” “warrior,” or any references to a group of people identifiable by their origin (“African,” “Chinese,” or “Mexican,”) or their culture (“Rasta,” or “Gypsy”)?


- Does the costume represent a stereotype, a caricature or generalizations about a group of people (e.g. the “terrorist,” or the “urban ghetto dweller”)?


If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions, you may want to reconsider the costume your child has chosen.


Click here for the full article, and for more tips on choosing a great costume for your child this year.

Photo courtesy of Valeria Boltneva,

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