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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Spooky, Scary, Problematic

It's that time of year already, when people start planning their ridiculous, racist, sexist "costumes" for October 31st.
Below is my response when a (POC) friend of mine asked if she should "dress up" as Pocahontas for Halloween.

That's an interesting question. I think perhaps it could be done, as you said, tastefully. But I'd be *really* careful about what "costume" elements you purchase and from where. Do not walk into a Disney princess store and buy a synthetic, brown short, tattered "Indian dress" with colored feathers and then just tell people you're Pocahontas. That benefits people/companies who have been exploiting native people for centuries and makes a joke of an entire culture. Do some research, figure out where the real Pocahontas was actually from. What tribe? Does that tribe still exist? Can you purchase authentic garments from native artists to support their craft and their work? If not, I'd say don't do it because you're essentially representing a culture that isn't your own, which is appropriation, and can be really hurtful and offensive to those groups.
I personally wouldn't ever do it because I'm not part of that culture and haven't ever been invited to take part in it. If you're willing to put in some work to try to make it a positive representation, then okay. But I wouldn't be surprised if, after all that learning, you didn't want to dress up as her anymore.

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