5 Awful Halloween Costume Ideas that Should Never Happen

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It’s only days before that day of the year that gives the costume-enthusiasts amongst us life – Halloween. Anticipate the ghoulish, the inventive and the just plain weird.

Some people talk about this time of year as a time when adults get to play with costume and dressing up fancy or just going sexy sexy sexy. And let’s be clear – there’s nothing at all wrong with being the sexiest version of yourself at any time of year. And why not use Halloween to really up those particular urges a notch?

But some of the costumes you might be thinking of can do more harm than good, and we’ve got a list for you of the worst possible queer costumes you might be thinking of to avoid at all outrageous costs. Warning – these really are awful.

Caitlyn Jenner


Sure, in the short time Caitlyn’s spent in the spotlight as herself, she’s revealed strange inconsistencies in her thinking – like apparently seeming to not realise that when she talks about equal marriage rights, she’s actually talking about her own possibilities for next marrying, not just lesbians in an abstract sense.

And yes, queer women, as a transwoman, and a fellow enthusiast of women (according to her history and many of her more recent statements, too) – Caitlyn Jenner is one of us! But she’s also crucially not a cis-woman.

And so if you are (or you’re any identity other than a transwoman), and you’re thinking about one of the iconic recent images of her to replicate for Halloween, think again.

Not only are you risking repeating such awful moments as the recent fiasco involving a pre-produced costume modeled on a cis-man, and played for laughs, you are risking replicating transphobia. The very real threat to life and limb that trans folk experience by coming out and existing in the world is a thing that isn’t funny, and really isn’t a Halloween costume idea!

Laverne Cox, (or basically any person of note who doesn’t share the same identity categories as you)

As before, if you’re not a transwoman, don’t use her identity as a costume! It’s really not okay.

And yes, Laverne Cox is amazing, and iconic, and totally badass. And she’s a fabulous role model for all, especially as a black women, given the statistically reduced opportunities for such roles in our society women of color receive. We completely understand why you would want to emulate her in even the smallest way.

But if there’s any chance you are not also trans – say no. And if you have to consider upping your self-tanner or doing any variation of racial crossing that may in any sense be understood as blackface, yellowface or their cousins to attain that look… Just no. No no. No no no. Pick something / someone else to be for the night. Please.

Sugar Skull / Pseudo Dia de los Muertos Costumes

Yes, you might look super cute in those skirts. We know the skull is the perfect line between ‘cute’ and ghoulish that you were looking for for this day.

But we still think you need to leave the face paint alone for this. Basically, this applies to all and every culture that is not yours. Native American ‘costumes’ – no thanks. South Asian saris and bindis – pass.

Of course, if you come from the culture in which the Day of the Dead is honored, then it’s completely up to you how you choose to relate to it.

But for everyone else, please take a moment to think about the fact that the day originated as an indigenous practice in southern Mexico for honoring the lost and passed on of the community. It’s respectful, it’s directly related to rituals and caring for grief and ancestry, and it’s a small remnant of a practice that was decimated just as the indigenous communities who observe it were by the colonising peoples who took over that part of Latin America.

When you take that on and trivialise people’s grief through your own interpretations, you are perpetuating those terrible erasing histories that community has felt throughout history. Don’t be that gal.

Rice Queen / Geisha

Just like other people’s cultures are not for repackaging and making ‘yours’ for the sake of a costume, sexual identities are not a place where racism is okay.

Okay, let’s be real, there are a lot of ways in which varying identity categories are very attractive. Yes, you may love the collected works of amazing queer-focused Hong Kong director auteur, Wong Kar Wai and his dreamy classic East Asian era scapes paced in the main by tango music and classic chinese tunes. Perhaps you adore and admire the life and work of Erykah Badu – we understand this enthusiasm.

But deciding that your sexual ‘conquests’ ought to revolve around exoticizing a race or identity – that’s a firm pass. It’s another repackaging of the racism we just talked about, and it needs to stop.



Okay, so this one might be especially controversial when I say that it shouldn’t be done, but really what I mean is that it is important that it’s done well. That means thinking about it hard. Like, really hard.

Yes, of late the gothic and the ornate, deep shades of lipstick and pale illuminators, crystals and tarot have all become an obsessive trend. Maybe it has something to do with the appeal of velvets, wools and dark shades of clothing as the cooler months come upon us, maybe it’s the recent blood moon – who knows?

But here’s the thing – even if the classic concept of the ‘witch’ (as something Satanic or demonic) isn’t a real thing, people who follow Wicca as an ancient practice that honors natural things are. And, if you ever heard any of the stories of the old trials in Salem

Basically, women who dared to speak out against authorities, who practiced healing arts (like midwifery), and who dared to remain unmarried (think: quite probably lesbians!) were hunted down, held to account at sham trials, and then banished from their communities or executed in horrible ways.

Those women’s lives sound like they are worth celebrating, but in a historically accurate and informed way – let’s not just slap on some green face paint and a funny nose and a hat and call our costume done!

Sexy Nurse / Teacher

Hey, you know how that time you were in high school and you never thought you’d make it through alive but then that one teacher made it all make sense?

Remember when you were rushed through Urgent Care and right into the ER that one time, and didn’t know for a minute if you’d make it through, and someone was there to line up your meds, help you to the bathroom, and check in with you when you needed to understand what the doctor had said to you?

Teachers and nurses are crucial careers in our world, and their value keeps being put down and they have to fight for it at every step. That includes the right to earn the kind of pay that is both live-able, and reflects the invaluable role their work has in America.

And the sad fact is that making them into a ‘sexy’ costume just adds fuel to a narrative that demeans and devalues their work. Let’s choose to honor them instead, and pick sexy costumes that don’t hurt anyone – sexy strawberry, anyone? I just know you can find imaginative ways to make sexy costumes work that are both adorable and funny in turn, and do no damage at all.


And if by the end of this you’re feeling a little stuck, use this principle – if the idea is a funny, sexy or interesting commentary on something close to your identity, then it might actually be the most appropriate kind of costume you could find.

We know you’ve got a zillion amazing ideas inside you – now’s the time to get creative!


By | 2016-03-23T01:33:15+00:00 October 28th, 2015|Online writing|Comments Off on 5 Awful Halloween Costume Ideas that Should Never Happen

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