College warns against 'deplorable and problematic' costumes

Anthony Gockowski
Investigative Reporter

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  • Grinnell College is promoting a guide to help students avoid “cultural appropriation” this Halloween, warning that some costumes could be considered “deplorable and problematic.”
  • Examples of such "deplorable" costumes include a man wearing lingerie with a sash saying "Call me Caitlyn," and a costume representing a Hindu deity.
  • Grinnell College is promoting a guide to help students avoid “cultural appropriation” this Halloween, warning that some costumes could be considered “deplorable and problematic.”

    The guide provides several examples of costumes that might fit the definition of “cultural appropriation,” defining the term as “the act of displaying people’s cultures in a disrespectful or condescending manner.”

    “Does your costume perpetuate stereotypes or inaccurately portray my culture as a joke?”   

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    The guide, called “My Identity, Not Your Costume,” goes on to list several examples of “offensive” Halloween costumes, featuring pictures of Grinnell students holding photos of costumes that would be considered disrespectful towards their culture.

    In one instance, the guide shows a picture of a burly white man dressed in lingerie with a sash proclaiming “Call me Caitlyn,” referring to Caitlyn Jenner. The photo is held by a Grinnell student wearing a “National Coming Out Day” pin, and includes a caption stating, “the misrepresentation of my identity bothers me because people categorize me by my looks and may not understand my culture.”

    Another example of culturally appropriated Halloween costumes, according to the guide, is “using other cultures as accessories to appear more hip/interesting without adequate understanding or permission,” one example of which is a picture of someone dressed as a Hindu deity being held by an Indian student and the message that such costumes are “deplorable and problematic.”

    [RELATED: Sorority warns against ‘insensitive’ pop culture costumes]

    It then warns students that if their costumes take “defining characteristics of another culture” without “permission, or understanding of the historical background behind the said culture,” then these costumes might be too offensive to wear.

    The guide then concludes with two questions the school thinks students should consider before selecting a Halloween costume, asking, “Does your costume perpetuate stereotypes or inaccurately portray my culture as a joke?” as well as “Why would I find your ‘Halloween costume’ to be offensive?”

    Campus Reform reached out to Grinnell for a comment on the matter but did not receive a response in time for publication.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AGockowski



    Anthony Gockowski

    Anthony Gockowski

    Investigative Reporter

    Anthony Gockowski is an Investigative Reporter for Campus Reform. He has previously worked for The Daily Caller, Intercollegiate Review, and The Catholic Spirit.

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