Halloween is just around the corner and it’s time to think of a costume. What should it be? A hula dancer, or maybe even a Geisha?
The answer is, none of those things. It should not be anything that involves another person's culture. A cute hula costume may seem like a great idea with the plastic grass skirt and lei for some, but to those who actually identify as a Native Hawaiian will think otherwise.
At one point in time the art of hula was banned and could not be practiced in Hawaii. The history, the time and the hard work it takes to practice hula should not be disrespected for the sake of having a good night. Which goes for all other Asian Pacific Islander (API) regalia. Like how graduation regalia is only worn during a certain time/occasion, that goes the same for the API community.
Specific clothing can be sacred to other cultures and traditions, seeing it on someone that does not identify with the culture is offensive. Take the geisha for example, from an early age they are trained in traditional Japanese arts to become high-class professional performers. The regalia is specific to the stages of their training, so dressing up as a geisha, while not undergoing the required training, disregards the hard work that an actual geisha will experience.
Culture, history and heritage are things that a person cannot just “take off” at the end of the day. When dressing up as a cute hula girl, geisha, or anything that identifies with a specific culture for Halloween you are minimizing and disrespecting the people that take pride in where they come from. So, when thinking of a costume for Halloween it's best to become educated and mindful of those around you.
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