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Halloween, interrupted: Be Scary- not offensive

Sabrina Maddeaux

Gear up for Halloween, coming to a neighbourhood near you.

Gear up for Halloween, coming to a neighbourhood near you.

With Halloween right around the corner, now is a good time to remind people not to be racist idiots when selecting their costumes. Every year, without fail, some revelers think it's a good idea to sport headdresses, blackface (how is it possible anyone thinks this is still OK?), Hitler costumes, religious garb of any kind or costumes that exploit Asian, Mexican, Jamaican or any other cultural stereotypes.

One Aboriginal woman, Alicia Allard, has started a social media campaign #IAmNotACostume to remind Canadians to be thoughtful about their costume choices. She aims to remind people that dressing up as Indian chiefs and princesses is offensive cultural appropriation. To avoid any incidents, here's a basic primer on what NOT to wear this Halloween.

1. Chopsticks are eating utensils, not hair accessories for your tone deaf geisha costume

Dressing up in a barely-there kimono and top knot doesn't make you look sexy. It shows that you don't have an understanding of the long history of women, often young virgins, being objectified and sold to the highest bidder. Not to mention the harm that comes with portraying Asian women as passive, exotic beings to be fetishized.

2. No blackface. Ever

I shouldn't have to write this again, but every year some idiot (looking at you, Julianne Hough and your misguided Orange Is the New Black costume) thinks they can get away with it. Don't, under any circumstances, paint your skin another colour in an attempt to look like another race. Painting yourself Oompa Loompa Orange to look like Donald Trump, however, is OK.

3. No traditional or ceremonial outfits from other cultures

This means no headdresses, saris, bindis, burqas, Pocahontas-inspired fringe mini-dresses, etc. Again, remember these are real people, not costumes. Dressing up in these items for Halloween reinforces the idea that non-white cultures are "other" and even something to make fun of. Not to mention these costumes usually reinforce harmful stereotypes.

4. No sexy gypsy costumes

The term "gypsy" itself is a derogatory name for the Romani people, who were displaced and persecuted in Europe for years. Harmful stereotypes about gypsies, including that they're thieves, still persist.

These are only 101-level tips for not offending anyone, going viral on social media and getting fired from your job. If in doubt about the appropriateness of your costume this Halloween, just don't wear it.

Want to read more from Sabrina? Follow her on Twitter @SabrinaMaddeaux