Halloween isn’t a free-for-all



Halloween goes hand-in-hand with candy, decorations and — apparently— offensive costumes.

It seems like there’s a new way to offend someone with a Halloween costume every October. It’s usually around this time I start questioning why people assume it doesn’t really matter what they wear for just one day.

In 2011, Ohio University launched their “We’re a Culture, Not a Costume” campaign to raise awareness about cultural and ethnic appropriation in Halloween costumes.

While the campaign received widespread praise, the Internet took hold and parodied it relentlessly for being “hypersensitive.”

This is just one example of the kind of flippant rhetoric surrounding Halloween, and it’s not hard to see the connection to professionalism.

Professional people aren’t insensitive and ignorant. It doesn’t matter where you’re working or what you want to do in the future — wearing these costumes hurts your image and trivializes important issues.

Still think you get a free pass because it’s Halloween? The Internet definitely doesn’t.

Last year, my brother’s friend dressed up like Ray Rice dragging a blowup doll. Unfortunately, he wasn’t alone in the trend and his Instagram photo ended up in a Gawker article about the inappropriate costume.

Don’t run the risk of going viral for the wrong reasons. The rule about imagining your tweets on the cover of the New York Times also applies to your Halloween costume.

If you’re still confused, I often find listicles help. Here’s quick overview of what’s offensive and insensitive, according to The Huffington Post:

1. Any costumes that portray you as a race, culture or ethnicity you are not a member of.

Example: anything with blackface, Sexy Geisha or ‘Pocahottie’

2. Anything that objectifies a serious career.

Example: sexy cop, sexy nurse/doctor or sexy solider

3. Anything that objectifies someone’s body.

Example: a “fat _______” (usually an inflatable costume) or a Caitlyn Jenner costume

4. Anything that personifies mental disorders or illnesses.

Examples: ‘Anna Rexia’ costumes or mental patient costumes with straight jackets

5. Anything that portrays a marginalized group.

Example: dressing up as a homeless person.

Everything you do contributes to your image or personal brand, which is why Halloween isn’t a free-for-all. Instead, treat it like a creative opportunity to try something new while staying “on-brand”. You don’t want to alienate your audience.

Raegan Hedley is a sassy millennial who aspires to someday

become a kick-ass business professional. In the meantime, she writes on her

blog at raegjules.com and tweets way too much (@raegjules).