CTV News Calgary Latest Videos
Poll says Alberta most likely to embrace offensive Halloween costumes
Published Friday, October 27, 2017 6:46AM MDT
It’s just under a week before Halloween and Calgarians looking for costumes should be aware that stocks are dwindling, but they should also be cautious about their choice of costume too.
A poll, by Insight West, shows that Alberta is the one province in Canada that is more likely to embrace culturally insensitive or just plain offensive costumes.
The outfits often involve racial stereotypes and even include darkening your skin tone as part of the makeup.
The results of the poll say that 30 percent of Albertans think it’s okay for their kids to dress up as ethnic stereotypes and 44 percent think that darkening your skin to match the ethnicity of the costume is perfectly okay too.
Balwinder Marwaha, who runs the Halloween Alley store in southeast Calgary, says he stocks a number of the questionable costumes.
“As long as they fit and they represent, they don’t disrespect that culture or religion; we’ll bring those costumes into the stores because people want them.”
Jessie Loyer, an indigenous expert at Mount Royal University, opposes the idea.
“My culture is not a costume. That’s a pretty simple thing to say.”
She adds that anything that mocks a culture or sexualizes it is also wrong.
“Indigenous women are three times more likely to be sexually assaulted, so it connects to bigger issues in our world instead of just throwing on this cheap polyester plastic.”
What makes matters worse, others say, is that there are a lot of gray areas when it comes to costumes. There are a number of outfits that some consider offensive, but others don’t.
The best way to determine if your costume is offensive is to ask yourself some questions before picking it out, says Rebecca Sullivan, a cultural expert at the University of Calgary.
“Is the purpose of your costume to mock? Are the elements of your costume vulgar, grotesque [or] accessorizing negative characteristics of whatever it is you are doing?”
The easiest and fastest way to do it would be to do a Google search and make sure your costume doesn’t offend a certain group or demographic.
Experts also say to avoid making light of serious situations like sexual or physical assault.
(With files from Kamil Karamali)