Even before someone wears these outfits during the festivity, these Halloween costumes that are often inspired by popular culture works have sparked controversies.
Halloween, also known as All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints’ Eve, was originally celebrated by Christians to remember the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs and all the faithful departed. Over the years, however, it has turned into a secular tradition that is marked with trick-or-treating and dressing up.
While horror and supernatural characters are commonly associated with Halloween costumes, people usually also draw inspirations from other popular culture works like movies, TV shows and music videos. So wide the selections is that the line is now blurred as to what is considered acceptable and what is inappropriate.
Whether it’s done intentionally or not to gain attention, some Halloween costumes sparked controversies as soon as they were launched in stores. Thus, before you pick which character you want to dress up as this year, here’s a few examples of Halloween outfits that you should not wear to avoid offending others.
Tekashi69 a.k.a. 6ix9ine has been the subject of mockery since it’s reported that he cooperated with the feds in his racketeering case. Labeled as a “snitch,” he inspired numerous Internet memes and costumes for this year’s Halloween despite his bad reputations, both among the public and the gang community. Fake tattoos that resemble the “FEFE” hitmaker’s face tattoos are sold online. Someone even created fake advertisement of 6ix9ine-inspired costume for baby called “Lil Tattletale” that sees a child wearing a judge-approved suit and two long braids. While some adults are reportedly considering to dress up as the rapper, it’s highly doubted that parents want their kids to be associated with the troubled star.
2. Israeli Soldier
For a reason that no one could understand, Walmart was selling an Israeli-soldier outfit as a children’s Halloween costume back in 2015. The listing for the costume, modeled after an Israeli Defense Force uniform, featured a young boy holding a gun and wearing a green uniform with Hebrew script on the chest, complete with a red beret. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been long a sensitive issue to be discussed in public, let alone being introduced to young kids with limited comprehension of war.
3. The Handmaid’s Tale
The trend is not always right. While “The Handmaid’s Tale” has become one of Netflix’s popular and critically-acclaimed series, Yandy’s sexy interpretation of the garb worn by the handmaids based on Margaret Atwood’s novel sparked outrage. The provocative outfit included a red cape, mini dress and white bonnet. The ad urged women to “be bold and speak your mind in this exclusive Brave Red Maiden costume,” but one Twitter user thought “nothing like a sexy rape victim for Halloween fun.” Admitting that the costume was “seen as a symbol of women’s oppression, rather than an expression of women’s empowerment,” the online retailer eventually removed the item from its site.
4. Lady Boy
Amazon was another online retailer that was forced to remove its item after it was selling a lady boy-inspired costume. The listing marketed the “Adult Lady Boy Drag Fancy Dress Costume” as a tool to “embarrass a stag of your friends and family with this tastelessly brilliant fancy dress costume.” It included fabric male genitalia at the front of the dress which many found offensive. People threatened to boycott the site, with one arguing, “transgender people have a hard enough time as it is without this kind of ridicule.” As the result of the negative feedback, the company immediately removed the product.
5. Native American and Pocahontas
Yandy once again made another bad judgment about its product. The company, which landed in controversy for its “The Handmaid’s Tale” costume in 2018, was also selling the Tribal Trouble Native American costume for Halloween in the same year. The sexy outfit featured a crop top and mini fringed pants with headdress and black boots. The company also made reference to Disney’s “Pocahontas” for its Native American-styled costumes. The costumes received huge backlash for “grossly appropriating” a specific culture and “sacred regalia,” prompting people to start an online petition to boycott the costumes. The company, however, refused to pull the items.
6. Mental Patient
As with the case of the “lady boy” costume, people thought it’s not funny to make fun of mental health patients. There were several interpretations of the mental patient Halloween costumes, with one including a blood-spattered uniform bearing the words “Dorothea Dix Psych Ward”. Dorothea Dix Hospital opened in 1856 in Raleigh and served patients with mental illness until it closed in 2012. After people expressed their outrage over the outfit, Halloween Alley store owners pulled the products to avoid protests by mental health advocacy groups.
As the owner to “Moana” copyrights, Disney has every rights to release products inspired by the 2016 animated film. But the company’s decision to capitalize on the movie’s popularity with a Halloween costume representing the demigod Maui, voiced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, didn’t sit well with many people. The costume included brown skin bodysuit, adorned with Polynesian tattoos and a faux-leaf skirt, and came with thick, dark hair. Disney eventually apologized and pulled the costume from its website and stores.
8. Tranny Granny
Walmart and Amazon shared the guilt for selling a so-called “tranny granny” outfit back in 2016. The outfit, which was reportedly listed by a third-party vendor named Rasta Imposta, included a dress, headscarf and padding for the breasts and rear-end. The costume sparked outrage, especially from the LGBTQ community which considered it an insult to transgender people. After the backlash, Walmart admitted the costume violated its terms of service for third-party retailers. Both Walmart and Amazon agreed to remove the item from their websites.
9. Caitlyn Jenner
While Caitlyn Jenner was applauded for spreading awareness of the transgender community when she came out as a transgender woman in 2015, a costume inspired by the former Olympic gold medalist was not that well accepted by public. As with the case of the “lady boy” costume, the outfit based on Caitlyn’s clothes on the cover of Vanity Fair was seen was transphobic. “To make a costume out of a marginalized identity reduces that person and community to a stereotype for privileged people to abuse,” read a petition. Some stores which sold different versions of the Caitlyn Jenner costume, however, refused to adhere to the plea.
10. Anne Frank
Among the controversial Halloween costumes ever existing, an Anne Frank costume was perhaps the most jaw-dropping one. The outfit, which surfaced on several websites in 2017, was called the “Girls World Evacuee Costume” or “World War II Evacuee Girl Costume” and included a long-sleeve short dress, with a beret and a sling bag. A spokesman for the Anne Frank Center said the costume “is offensive and trivializes her suffering and the suffering of millions during the Holocaust.” The organization was glad that the costume was eventually removed from online stores.