Halloween stirs debate between cultural appropriation and free expression

Halloween stirs debate between cultural appropriation and free expression

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Halloween is a time when the controversy intensifies between whether dressing up is an individual's self-expression or a form of cultural insensitivity.

The holiday, which originated with people dressing up to fend off evil spirits, has transformed into a day where costumes of all types are worn, even if that means imitating one another.

One side of the debate argues that a costume depicting another culture is prejudice and offensive. A popular example this year is Moana, a Polynesian princess from a Disney movie.

Others feel that it is only a costume that is not meant to be offensive. Those supporters may think that "political correctness" has gone too far.

The line between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation is very blurred. History and social issues contribute to the muddled debate.

To appreciate, be respectable and conscious of the context that the culture is being portrayed in. For example, borrowing a recipe to make an ethnic soup, and then talking about it with those who try the soup.

Examples of appropriation could include wearing Rastafarian dreadlocks, dressing in "blackface," or mocking a religious hijab worn by Middle Eastern individuals.

Mimicking public figures, skeletons, demons, princesses, fairies is typically fair game for Halloween. It could be offensive to some though when costumes are worn that depict something your friend or neighbor might wear everyday.

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