Will your costume offend someone this year?

It’s our intention to share with you uplifting and inspiring Halloween ideas, so we almost chose not to comment on this topic. However, it’s hard to deny that it’s an idea worth discussing: When choosing your costume, do you ever stop and wonder if it may offend someone?

Halloween costumes can be classic and timeless (witches, vampires, etc.), but often the ones most talked about are relevant to that year’s hottest, most notorious news topics. Costumes that have their finger on the pulse of pop culture. That said, 2015 brings us two new costumes ripped from the headlines: Caitlyn Jenner and Cecil the Lion.

Caitlyn Jenner costume
Caitlyn Jenner costume
Cecil lion hunter costume
Cecil lion hunter costume

After they were announced, the costumes quickly sparked controversy and backlash on the internet. Thousands of those who support Jenner or Cecil voiced their outrage on social media, but this isn’t the first time retailers or DIY costumers have offended.

A Google search for offensive Halloween costumes quickly shows you that, for many, no topic is off-limits. Every social issue imaginable can be used as inspiration, but where do you draw the line?

Costumes that may cause controversy:

  • sacrilegious costumes depicting deities performing inappropriate acts
  • victims from bombings, shootings, or war
  • racially insensitive makeup or clothing
  • dead celebrities or political figures
  • gross out costumes depicting extreme gore or bodily humor

The list goes on. Even celebrities with P.R. representatives guiding them through most decisions choose costumes that have the public asking “What were they thinking?”

In 2013, Julianne Hough decided to celebrate her favorite character from Orange is the New Black.

Julianne Hough as Crazy Eyes (2013)
Julianne Hough as Crazy Eyes (2013)

After realizing how many disapproved of her choice, Hough responded on Twitter:

“I am a huge fan of the show Orange is the New Black, actress Uzo Aduba, and the character she has created. It certainly was never my intention to be disrespectful or demeaning to anyone in any way. I realize my costume hurt and offended people and I truly apologize.”

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In 2011 on an episode of Paula’s Best Dishes, TV chef Paula Deen and her son Bobby dressed up as Lucy and Ricky Ricardo  from I Love Lucy. Bobby’s choice to use dark makeup to portray a Latino character seemed inappropriate and in poor taste to many.

When questioned about the possible offensive nature of the Caitlyn Jenner costume, popular Halloween retailer Spirit Halloween responded:

“Caitlyn Jenner has proven to be the most important real-life superhero of the year, and Spirit Halloween is proud to carry the costume that celebrates her.”

Spirit Halloween, like Hough and Deen, claim the costumes are a celebration of the character portrayed and are, in no way, meant to offend anyone.

Johnathon Weeks, CEO of Costumeish (the company selling the “Lion Killer Dentist” costume), says the costume was created after the company was flooded with requests. He also notes that 15% from every purchase of the costume will be donated to the wildlife foundation “Justice for Cecil.”

Does a possibly insulting outfit have merit if it celebrates a beloved icon or brings to light a social or political cause? Do you think about the public’s thoughts and opinions before choosing your costume each year?

Whether you find them relevant, humorous, or repulsive- costumes have the power to ignite passion.

Share your thoughts and opinions below!

2 thoughts on “Will your costume offend someone this year?

  1. I don’t even know what I would do if I saw someone waltzing around in one of those costumes. They’re terrible. I worked with a guy once who LOVED to do the whole disrespectful costume thing. I remember one year he didn’t show up to any parties but told people he was there and when they asked what his costume was he responded “Malaysian Flight 370”. People suck sometimes. Love this site though!

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting! We’re so curious to know how many people have seen someone wear something that’s upset them on Halloween. It’s always a good idea to think ahead before making your final costume selection.

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