To acquire wisdom, one must observe

How to celebrate Halloween without being problematic

Halloween is obviously the best holiday ever. This is an uncontested fact. This year, after a long (still ongoing) pandemic, it seems obvious that people are going to go extra hard on Halloween in order to make up for the holidays lost. I have three costumes planned and three nights of activities ahead of me this weekend, so I will be a part of the group of Halloween extremists this year. 

While Halloween has an air of nostalgia for many of us, and gives us the opportunity to be someone entirely different for a night (or three), it comes with a few potential problems. The obvious one to avoid is dressing up as a different culture or race. It is 2021, so it is depressing that I even have to discuss this, but if you are dressing up as a character that isn’t the same race as you, you do not have to change your features to look more like that race. That is very obviously problematic. Doing blackface or brownface isn’t the only thing you must avoid, but you should also steer clear of things like changing your eye shape to mimic East Asian features and donning feathered headdresses to be an Indigenous person for the holiday. Other cultures and races, especially those that have been systematically persecuted by white people, are not costumes. 

On top of this, costumes shouldn’t be judged unless they are harming someone or portraying a different race or culture. Halloween is notorious for skimpy costumes, and sexy versions of almost anything you can imagine. Don’t be the lame person slut shaming someone for wanting to wear nothing but cat ears and lingerie. Once again, it’s 2021, let them enjoy their night without it being an issue for you! On the same note, do not harass, assault, touch or make sexual advances towards someone simply because they are wearing something more revealing than is traditional. Women and femme-presenting people sometimes just want to dress revealing because it’s a special occasion and it is fun. Do not assume that anyone on Halloween is dressing a specific way in order to get your attention, because the vast majority of people are doing nothing of the sort. Don’t flatter yourself like that! (This obviously also goes the same for men and masculine-presenting people wearing revealing clothing, it’s just a far more systemic issue for women and femmes.) Wearing a costume is not consent, and if you take it to be the same thing you’re genuinely the scariest part of Halloween… 

A key part to not being problematic on Halloween—and every holiday—is to stay safe and to not endanger others. Partake in whatever you choose to partake in so long as you don’t drive under the influence, do not pressure anyone to take or drink anything they do not wish to take or drink and keep an eye on your friends or anyone who may need help throughout the weekend. Being unproblematic is being a friendly and safe person to go to when someone is in need, and recognizing when someone (whether you know them or not) is in danger. I know, no one wants to think about this stuff before going out to parties or clubs on Halloweekend, but it is important to always have it in the back of your mind. 

If you are someone who does not get as into Halloween as others may, don’t make fun of them for being excited. No one cares that you aren’t wearing a costume, or you’re wearing an ironic t-shirt. Don’t judge someone for putting in effort just because you didn’t feel like it. Let everyone enjoy their Halloween how they wish to. 

Please just be socially aware on Halloween. Unfortunately this amazing holiday breeds situations where people are unsafe and unaware, but being someone who prevents these situations is key in being a fun friend on Halloween. Also don’t be homophobic or transphobic on Halloween! That should be a given. Enjoy your weekend safely and while being respectful towards others, be it their appearance or their race/culture. Everyone should be allowed to celebrate without being afraid of what may happen to them and without being upset at someone’s racially insensitive costume.


Get Our Stories Sent To Your Inbox

Skip to content