What not to wear: Halloween’s most offensive costumes

The following Halloween costumes cost money. They cost money to make. They cost money to purchase. To make money, a person must have a job. To have a job, it’s assumed a person must be reasonably intelligent, or, at the very least, have the ability to function in society. And yet, the sheer amount of sexist, culturally appropriative and generally offensive costumes available to purchase at Chicago Halloween stores this year make the previous statements somewhat difficult to believe.

If you’re currently despairing for humanity, Anthony Smith, a seasonal sales associate at Chicago Costume, offers a reason for all of this extraordinarily questionable attire: there’s a market for it.

“I know we do our best to just be mindful of everybody’s needs and everybody’s wants,” Smith said.

When questioned about the tendency for usually rational people to choose these kinds of costumes, Smith offered a glimmer of hope: “I see it a lot less this year. I see a lot more people trying to be aware.”

Chicago Costume, which is located on Fullerton across the street from DePaul’s quad, has the benefits of being family-owned and open year-round. Besides a stray Native American shirt or an errant “Racy Red Riding Hood” or two, its costumes are fairly wholesome and straightforward.

But, if any of the above derogatory offerings appealed to you, perhaps you’d consider incorporating a hidden face mask into your costume this Halloween.

[box]Hear more on the worst Halloween costumes on the latest episode of Culture Shock [/box]

The sexist costumes


Cougar bait 

Ageism and sexism all wrapped up into one nonsensical knockoff of a Campbell’s Soup can. Do people still use the word “cougar” to denote older women that are interested in younger man? And if so, can it stop?

Offensiveness rating: 4/10 because Andy Warhol is rolling over in his grave.

Perky plumber and sultry scarecrow

This is the classic. Hanging side-by-side at Halloween City are this men’s Super Mario costume and this women’s version, unnecessarily called the “Perky Plumber” costume. Also at Halloween City, “Mr. Scarecrow” and “Sultry Scarecrow.” It appears not even a mustache or being an actual garden decoration can help characters escape gratuitous sexualization on Oct. 31.

Offensiveness rating: 3/10 because let’s face it, these are everywhere.

(Madeline Buchel / The DePaulia)
(Madeline Buchel / The DePaulia)

The culturally appropriative costumes


Because of their roots in African culture, dreadlocks can be considered culturally appropriative when used to seem “cool,” “edgy,” or, in the case of the gentlemen pictured here, to distract from one’s aesthetically disturbing tie-dye shirt. It’s best to simply avoid these kinds of wigs, especially when it’s difficult to think of any costume they could be used for that wouldn’t veer at least slightly toward the racist side.

Offensiveness rating: 5/10 because the next one in this category is unbelievably egregious.

Native American costumes

With headdresses getting banned from music festivals, and Columbus Day just a few weeks earlier, you’d think people would be starting to get the hint that wearing anything that resembles the sacred garments of historically oppressed indigenous peoples is the very definition of cultural appropriation. But, oh no, not Halloween City. They went all in with this embarrassingly prominent display.

Offensiveness rating: 10/10 because everyone should know better.

(Photo courtesy of COSTUMESUPERCENTER.COM) (Madeline Buchel / The DePaulia)
(Photo courtesy of COSTUMESUPERCENTER.COM) (Madeline Buchel / The DePaulia)

The generally offensive costumes

Major flirt

“Trick-or-treat!” cries an adorable little girl at your front door. “And what are you?” you innocently inquire. “Oh, me? I’m Major Flirt!” By this point, you should be engaged in a stern talking-to with “Major Flirt’s” parents.

Offensiveness rating: 10/10 because everyone involved in this needs to read “Lolita” and learn from it.

Poop emoji hat (paired with toilet mask)

“We have a toilet mask and a poop hat. The dynamic duo,” said Kayla Gonzalez, Halloween City’s assistant manager, who pointed this out as a suggested couples costume. Love is a many-splendored thing. Bonus: one of these can be swapped out for the year’s trendiest costume, a Donald Trump mask, and the pairing will probably still make sense.

Offensiveness rating: 9/10 because this is why previous generations hate us.