NEW YORK — Should Halloween costumes need to pass a “political correctness” test before parents let their kids go trick-or-treating? A new survey finds many think moms and dads should think twice before letting their children dress up in certain costumes for Halloween this year.
A recent OnePoll survey asked 2,000 American parents of children under 10 to weigh in on which “offensive” Halloween costumes they believe should be banned from stores.
Holocaust-related costumes, such as the infamous “Anne Frank” outfit that caused a social media controversy in 2017, topped the list of ideas to avoid (45%). Anything related to blackface (43%), displaying the Confederate flag (38%), or transphobia (37%) also ranked high on the list. Other choices Americans think kids should avoid include pandemic-related costumes, such as hazmat suits (32%) and also portrayals of cultural stereotypes (29%).
The relationship between Halloween and cultural appropriation or stereotyping has become a hot-button issue over the last decade, with critics and activists popularizing the phrase “My culture is not a costume” in social media discussions.
A tough topic for parents
When asked to define cultural appropriation in their words, one parent said it means “when you take somebody else’s culture and make it your own in a disrespectful manner.” Another respondent interpreted it as “the adoption and showcasing of another people’s culture in a fun or mocking way.”
Although parents in the poll believe cultural appropriation is a topic worth discussing with their children, not all were clear about how to define it. One parent defined cultural appropriation as “to be proud of your culture.” Others admitted they don’t know what the term means.
Sixty-three percent of parents say they’ve already had conversations with their children about cultural appropriation because of the issues Americans are facing in today’s society. Another 58 percent have stressed to their kids that engaging in cultural appropriation or any type of appropriation can be “very hurtful” to others.
Nearly half of parents (45%) say they now regret wearing certain Halloween costumes in the past that some now consider inappropriate or offensive. Only 37 percent don’t feel sorry about sporting those costumes in the past. Since then, nearly two-thirds of respondents (63%) have been more careful with their families’ costume choices because they don’t want to offend anyone.
Popular parent threads
Of the 42 percent of parents who plan to dress up this Halloween, some are reportedly going as Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, Superman, Lady Gaga, and Gomez and Morticia Addams. Three-quarters of adults say their kids also plan on dressing up, choosing costumes including Baby Shark, robots, vampires, and Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
As many parents see those costumes as “safe” options, most agree that the offensive costumes should be left in the past. Wearing offensive costumes has not only been an issue during Halloween but in the classroom as well.
In 2019, a Tennessee elementary school came under fire after a student was assigned to dress up as Adolf Hitler and gave the Nazi salute to his classmates as part of a WWII history lesson.
In 2017, a Black mother in Georgia spoke out against her child’s school for promoting “Civil War Day,” where a white student dressed as a plantation owner and told her son, “You are my slave.”
Surprisingly, half the poll say they’d let their child wear a costume some people consider inappropriate or offensive to school for educational purposes.
By comparison, only a quarter say they’re against that type of roleplaying.