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Happy Politically Correct Halloween

by Amy Zidell

10.31.03

It's an oldie and hopefully a goodie from 1998.

Before all you ghosts and goblins descend on Halloween, I want to share something I recall from a prior Halloween season -- politically correct Halloween costumes. A couple of years back, local television featured a Los Angeles Unified School District authority figure listing Halloween costumes that were not offensive. That's right, some sort of task force -- hired with tax dollars -- spent who knows how much time and resources exploring the atrocities of children's Halloween costumes. Certainly there's better use of energies but it did make me think.

Now I can understand restricting costumes that are not safe, ill-fitting, or very tacky but where does it end? I've thought about this for a while. Is any costume really politically correct? Who made up that phrase anyway?

The politically correct costume list suggests that historical figures are appropriate subjects for costumes. How did they figure that one? Take George Washington. On the surface, dressing up like the first president might seem fun but it's not very funny to an English family. What if they had relatives killed during the revolutionary war? Tragic historical memories of such loss cannot be ignored. A costume like that is plain rude, forget politically incorrect.

Take just the most basic costume. A ghost made from a sheet with eye holes cut out. Come on. What about the obvious KKK connection? That costume is clearly, insensitive and politically incorrect, not to mention uninspired. If no one told us we would have no idea that these seemingly innocent costumes were so offensive.

Let's see what other costumes might be offensive. I can't tell you how many kids over the years have dressed as the opposite gender. This is very blatant and not sensitive to transvestites at all. It's truly appalling.

Mummies are a traditional standard costume but how do people of Egyptian heritage feel about it? It might be offensive.

Witch costumes might offend women with PMS. Skeleton costumes could likely offend the underweight. What happened to imitation being the greatest form of flattery? Apparently today, imitating someone is offensive.

Enough of that. Really there are just a few common sense things to consider when choosing or approving of a costume for your child. It should not be all black. It should not be stupid. Masks should have eye and breathing holes. If the costume involves any type of solider or warrior, no live ammunition or cast-iron weapons should be included. Don't dress your children in costumes that will need to be discussed years later in therapy. If the costume consists of thin nylon, clothing worn underneath to keep the child warm should not protrude past the costume, especially with fairy princesses. This ruins the effect. Try coordinated tights for warmth instead.

I want to know what happened to a holiday when kids could harmlessly run around like maniacs dressed up in outrageous outfits and be sick for weeks from eating pounds of candy loot they collected all while parents and teachers alike waited nervously for sugar highs to end? Trick or Treat.

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