By Megan Kenslea
Halloween is a great time to test the boundaries of acceptable attire. Want to walk around sans pants like Lady Gaga for a day? Perfectly fine. Perhaps smear yourself with fake blood and Cheerios to dress as a “Cereal Killer”? Totally acceptable.
However, there are plenty of costumes that cross the line from humorous to offensive, and college-age kids throughout the country (and even across the pond) have caused national outrage with some of their seemingly innocent costumes.
Here are some of the headline-grabbing costumes that you shouldn’t replicate:
Bob Marley is a popular Halloween costume among college students, but a Northwestern University student took his costume too far, adding blackface to his wig and Rastafarian clothing. Another female student dressed as a tennis player also wore blackface, and photos of the pair made national headlines on Gawker and other news sites. As a result, the school, which had also been accused of racial profiling, held a community forum to discuss race on campus.
Prince Harry and the Swastika
In his college years, Prince Harry was known for his wild side, and he became the subject of an international scandal in 2005 at age 20, when he wore a swastika on his arm to a costume party. Although the prince quickly issued an apology, Jewish leaders around the globe criticized his choice of costume, and the press continued to report on the costume long after the party was over.
Virginia Tech Shooting Victims
Just seven months after the Virginia Tech Massacre, two Penn State – University Park students dressed as Virginia Tech shooting victims. The costume choice incited outrage within the Penn State and Virginia Tech communities, and Penn State spokesman Bill Mahon publicly stated the costumes were “appalling.” One good thing that came out of the controversy? The following year, Greek life leaders at Penn State took out an ad in the university newspaper urging students to use tact when selecting Halloween costumes.
After a University of Pennsylvania student dressed as a suicide bomber for University President Amy Gutmann’s Halloween party, both the student and Gutmann, who posed with the student for a photograph, were criticized by the Penn community. While the student said he did not intend to offend anyone, he later apologized on his site for any unintentional harm his costume may have caused.
So, what’s the lesson you should take away from these costume controversies? Take a page out of the Penn State Greek community book and “take a minute to think about what kind of response the costume may elicit from others.” Dressing like Casey Anthony might seem like an innocent joke in the privacy of your dorm room, but others might be deeply offended by your costume choice.
Stay tuned next week for some creative – and politically correct – costume ideas.
Photo: San Diego Shooter