Don’t Dress Like an Asshole This Halloween

We’re here today about costumes. They’re super awesome! Dressing up is fun and even necessary, as adulthood is just way too serious most of the time. But then, someone dreams up something sexist, racist, classist, and varying combinations therein and thinks they’re the greatest. These people are shameless assholes.

It’s 2015 so I’m not going to go over the basics—you should know by now that blackface is always a bad idea, that native headdresses are sacred, and that you really shouldn’t do a “sexy” version of anyone’s culture. But every year, we get some new bullshit to remind ourselves how awful humans can really be sometimes. Here are 5 “topical” costumes that you should avoid like they’re radioactive.

Me, in anticipation of what my Facebook ads are going to look like now


  1. Caitlyn Jenner

When first saw this was a costume, I wanted to punch things. The fact that the “model” wearing it is usually a dude with a good five o’clock shadow, it’s pretty obvious that this isn’t a “celebration”, “appreciation”, or any of the bullshit words apologists throw around. It’s supposed to be a joke—ha, she’s a woman! That’s your punchline with this costume. When you remove the “I hate trans people” element from the costume, it doesn’t make sense.

So, let this serve as a warning. Men—all men—do not dress up as Caitlyn Jenner. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care what you think. You are not edgy or cool. You are not taking on the established. You are an unabashed shitface. I will breathe fire upon any man I see in a white bustier on Halloween. You want to dress up like a trans person? You better be ready to take all the vitriol, hate, and violence that comes with it. Otherwise, fulfill your gender-bending needs with some khaki short shorts as Larry Croft: Tomb Raider.

2. Ahmed and His Clock

Would this be an easy DIY costume? Definitely! Should you do it? No, you ridiculous person. Especially don’t do it with another white friend dressed up as a cop. There’s the classic reason—a mockery of systemic racism by white people—at the forefront. But Islamophobia is alive and well in America, particularly in Irving, Texas.

What you might not know about Irving is that, in addition to being the former home of the Dallas Cowboys, it’s the current center of the metroplex’s anti-Islamic activity. DFW is a pretty liberal area for Texas (which is like being pretty cool for a Chili’s manager in your 40s). There’s a significant immigrant population in the northwest suburbs and naturally, many Texans responded by displaying their true racism.

Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne has been leading the charge, with the support of a vocal minority, against what she calls a “sharia court” going up in Irving. What she’s referring to is an Islamic Tribunal in Irving that provides non-binding mediation services with Islamic law as a guide to dispute resolution. Other religions have been doing this for years. No one’s breaking the law, but the mayor doesn’t give a shit. After all, you don’t get invited on Glenn Beck’s show without using the phrase “sharia law” at least ten times in public and swearing up and down that you don’t hate Muslims, you just love America.

Put in that context, Ahmed’s arrest looks like the giant pile of xenophobic bullshit it is. His family knows it too. This certainly isn’t the first time they’ve experienced prejudice since living in Irving, just the most public. Ahmed has since announced that he’s joining a Young Innovators program in Qatar. This young man felt so unsafe in America, “land of the free,” that he left the country. Let that sink in a little before you think about what a “hilarious” costume this would be.

3. Dylann Roof

Hey, look! Another easy DIY that makes you a complete fucking monster. For some reason, white people find these kinds of costumes hilarious. I don’t get it—is it the national tragedy? The unmatched violence in a developed country? Or do these folks just have a warped interpretation of what humor is for?

Fortunately, I couldn’t find an image of someone doing this on Google, which means there’s still time to prevent it. Instead, here are the 9 people he murdered. In case you forgot while looking for your own Rhodesian flag patch.

This is how to be a racist on Halloween without actually darkening your skin. You avoid all of the really obvious tropes, like “Asian Warrior” and “Mexican Señor”, while still making it clear that racism is A-OK in your book. It’s so transparently racist that it can’t be defended—this man was clearly a white supremacist motivated by racial hatred. That won’t stop some folks from trying though.

Because mass violence is a joke to them. It happens so often that we’ve become desensitized and think we can joke about it. White Americans are still reticent to acknowledge that shooting 9 black people in a historically black church is racist. We haven’t achieved any semblance of justice for these victims the aftermath of this shooting except finally taking down a Confederate flag on state property. To recap—not funny; it’s terribly sad and incredibly racist.

4 & 5. Mental Illness Costumes

Am I late to the party? Because this seems like a new thing. I swear I didn’t see this until this year but here we are. Days after hearing about “Anna Rexia”, the hideous skin tight skeleton dress with a measuring tape and name badge, I see “Bipolar Bear”—a half black, half white standard “sexy bear” getup with a necklace of meds. I wish I was making this shit up.

An amazing anorexia survivor posted pictures and pieces from her story to demonstrate how truly not cute this costume is. Anorexia has one of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness—as Jessi notes in the previous link, 33% of anorexia sufferers will die from the disease and its effects. It’s a debilitating disease and millions of sufferers won’t seek treatment because of shame and the normalization of “dieting” in our culture. So wearing a “sexy anorexic” dress isn’t ironic or edgy. It’s just rude and deeply insensitive.

Now, if you’re dressing up like a goddamn bear because of bipolar disorder, odds are you’re the same sort of ignoramus who thinks this is just about rampant mood swings for no apparent reason. My sweet summer child, how wrong you are. Bipolar disorder comes in many forms and fashions but usually involves manic periods which last for days followed by depressive episodes that are just as severe.

Bipolar patients in manic states go without sleep, make risky decisions, and often make huge mistakes (like the patient who emptied their savings account and literally threw their money out the window of their car). Depressive states are the opposite—excessive sleep, extremely depressive emotions, and thoughts of suicide. It has a much lower mortality rate, at 17% of patients, but it’s a chronic condition that can only be managed and treated. Bipolar disorder, even in its mildest forms, is a special kind of hell.

You want to dress up like a sexy skeleton or a sexy bear? Cool. Go for it, although we already told you sexy “X” costumes are over. Do your thing, but leave mental health out of it. We have enough trouble getting respect without cheap stereotypes of our diseases flitting around on Halloween.

Have you seen a shitty costume—homemade or in store? Share below! Send us a picture. Let the shittiness be known so that we can live a better Halloween in 2016.

Featured image credit: Imgur

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