Halloween 2023: Problematic costumes to steer clear of this year including serial killers & dead celebrities
Halloween is the highlight of the year for many, and dressing up is half the fun - but there are some costumes you should avoid at all costs.
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It might be difficult to believe after the recent delayed heatwave, but Halloween is almost upon us again. For many, the spooky holiday is the highlight of the year - a time for trick or treating, carving pumpkins and curling up with your favourite horror film.
However, there’s another tradition that ultimately rears its head every October 31 that’s more problematic than the rest - offensive Halloween costumes. While dressing up is to be expected and half the fun for most, there are some costumes that should be avoided at all costs.
As a general reminder, costumes that make light of serious events and demean the long-term effects many people still endure because of them such as the Covid-19 pandemic, mass shootings, terrorist attacks (that infamous pair who dressed up as the Twin Towers on 9/11, anyone?) and natural disasters are beyond insensitive. The same goes for costumes that poke fun at movements such as Black Lives Matter or #MeToo.
Blackface, which is deeply rooted in racism, is never ok - under any circumstances. Dressing up as someone from a specific culture, especially one that is marginalised, is a form of cultural appropriation and could also be considered racist. Here’s a list of other Halloween costumes to steer clear of this year - and every year.
Serial killers including Jeffrey Dahmer
People were warned not to dress up as Jeffrey Dahmer for Halloween last year after a Netflix series portraying the crimes of the infamous serial killer achieved global success. Dahmer - Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story centres around the life of Dahmer, who murdered and dismembered 17 men and boys in a horrific killing spree between 1978 and 1991.
It wasn’t long before Jeffrey Dahmer-inspired costumes and props began surfacing online as Halloween 2022 approached, prompting calls from Dahmer’s victims’ families to refrain from dressing up as the prolific killer who was a “real person” and “ruined countless lives”. While it’s not uncommon for horror fans to dress up as fictional killers such as Jason X or Hannibal Lecter on Halloween, imitating a real serial killer is disrespectful to victims and the devastated ones they leave behind.
The Covid-19 pandemic
It’s easy to put on a mask, purchase a fake syringe and show up as “the Covid-19 pandemic” for Halloween. But doing so would make light of the virus which killed millions and continues to seriously affect people around the world. The same goes for the Monkeypox virus, of which there have been tens of thousands of confirmed cases globally so far. Any costume that resembles anti-vaxxers or someone with Covid-19 should also be avoided.
Be sure to call out a transphobic costume if you see one, as it will only lead to greater transphobia and the marginalisation of an already at-risk community. Several retailers in America came under fire a couple of years ago for offering Caitlyn Jenner Halloween costumes, which included a white corset and wig. Critics argued the costumes mocked the transgender community and promoted transphobia by reducing Jenner to a stereotype.
Zombie versions of dead celebrities
Paying homage to one of your favourite celebrities who are sadly no longer with us is fine. Go wild with an Amy Winehouse beehive if you wish, but adding zombie make-up on top or turning your costume into a mean caricature would be in very bad taste. You should never dress up in a way that makes fun of a celebrity’s death, particularly if it was tragic. Remember that someone else’s personal tragedy is not for your entertainment on Halloween.
A homeless person
Dressing up as a “hobo” was considered a harmless outfit for decades. But in the UK, thousands of people are without safe and accessible shelter and the situation continues to worsen as the cost of living crisis spirals. Homelessness is a lived reality for many and not a cute Halloween costume idea.