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Moments with Mimi: My culture is not your Halloween costume

It's September, so you know what that means: it's Halloween time. Even though it's still scorchingly hot outside, that doesn't mean you can't start getting into the fall mood and spooky season. Especially with Ohio University's reputation, one must begin thinking about Oct. 31 at least a month in advance. However, when it comes to costumes, choosing the perfect option can be a big feat.

Sexy or scary? Cute or hot? There are many things to consider when picking a costume. Something to note, though, is the context of your costume and how you may be perceived. Although cultural awareness is being more prominently discussed, there can still be insensitivity regarding cultural appropriation in Halloween costumes. Asian culture is no exception.

Things like geishas, qipaos, take-out boxes and conical hats are all victims of over-sexualization and appropriation during the Halloween season. Although some may see it as harmless fun and even as a form of appreciation, using another's culture for a holiday known for dressing up in costume is wrong. It's as if our traditions, history and life are simultaneously a joke and aesthetic for others to put on when they deem fit.

What hurts more is that Asians are made fun of and alienated for their culture, yet people believe it's acceptable to dress up in the same way and interpret it as "exotic" or "oriental." Most of the time, the costumes sold are not culturally accurate and instead rely on racist stereotypes. This is especially common in costumes with designs such as Chinese writing or cliche patterns.

The Chinese qipao is an ethnic dress from the Manchu people, typically worn by high society socialites in China. It's traditionally long and figure-fitting, but most of the time, it's inaccurately marketed and over-sexualized. The same goes for the Japanese kimono and Indian saree. Both outfits have become sexualized objects when the real clothing pieces have a long and deep history. Wearing these pieces with a blatant disregard for their meanings is insensitive and offensive to their cultures.

Overall, it's important to note that there is a difference between the appropriation and appreciation of Asian culture and its clothing. Halloween is notorious for excusing cultural appropriation, so as you browse Spirit Halloween or Party City, think about what you're putting on and how you're portraying clothes that may have a meaning behind them.

Mimi Calhoun is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Have something to say? Email Mimi at or tweet her @mimi_calhoun.

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