Halloween is almost upon us, which means little ones will be donning their costumes to totter off down the road to trick or treat.
But while there is always some controversy over inappropriate kids costumes, this year seems to have taken the blood-stained crown with calls to ban dressing up as everything from a witch or a wizard to Disney’s ‘Moana’.
Yep, according to one parenting blogger allowing your child to don a Moana costume this Halloween is tantamount to racism.
And it’s not just Moana who is on the banned list. Parents should also think twice about letting their kids dress as Elsa from ‘Frozen’ because her character promotes “white beauty.”
Writing in her blog Raising Race Conscious Children, parent activist Sachi Feris urged parents not to dress their children up as characters from backgrounds different to their own as it “makes fun of someone else’s culture.”
Although many would see the determined Moana as a perfect role model for their child to channel, Feris said doing so should be considered “cultural appropriation.”
Over in Canada schools are also trying to steer students and parents towards Halloween costumes that aren’t considered offensive or culturally insensitive.
Earlier this month a Canadian school board emailed a checklist entitled”Is my costume appropriate?” to parents.
But while martians, mythical creatures, and animals were given the dressing-up green light, there were plenty of costumes on the must not wear list including cowboy and Indian costumes, slaves, Rastafarians and gypsies.
The checklist from the Conseil scolaire Viamonde, which oversees 51 schools in Ontario, was criticised by some parents as an example of political correctness gone mad, but a spokesperson for the school board said the guidelines, which were originally sent out last year, had received a positive reaction from parents overall.
In Winnipeg meanwhile, a primary school was so concerned by the debate about Halloween costumes, it decided to ban the celebration altogether.
The 31 October is now being marked “tie and scarf” day, one of four themed costume days the school celebrates instead of Halloween itself.
Back in the UK, one school decided to ban dressing up at the annual Halloween party after deeming wizard and witch costumes “culturally offensive”, and some parents think this is taking things too far.
Taking to the parenting site Mumsnet, one mum shared her frustration at the ban in a now deleted post.
Explaining that the school’s Halloween party is something that the kids look forward to every year, the mum went on to say that she can’t understand why the after-school party needs to be cancelled or why all costumes have to be banned in a move she claimed was political correctness gone mad.
But this is only one part of the costume crusade. Another type of outfit that parents and schools have taken issue with are ones that are age inappropriate or just in bad taste.
Earlier this month the Duchess of Cambridge’s parents Carole and Michael, were criticised for allowing the party company they own to sell inappropriate costumes.
The company sells Halloween costumes, and according to a new poll conducted by Channel Mum, at least two of the costumes they stock are considered inappropriate by many parents.
“Duchess of Cambridge’s parents’ Party Pieces pushing sexualised costumes for girls aged just four,” the findings state.
And other Halloween companies have also been slammed for selling a sexy costume based on the Eleven character from Stranger Things.
But are we taking it all a bit too seriously? Are Halloween costumes just a bit of fun or do costume critics have a point?
While it is difficult to argue against the banning of age-inappropriate costumes, when it comes to stopping your child dressing up as a Disney princess some might say it is a PC step too far.
As one parent argued on the end of Sachi Feris’ blog, by bringing it up with children are we making an issue of something that they simply don’t see?
“Kids don’t care about race,” she wrote. “What do you think your kid is going to tell her friends? She can’t be Moana because Moana is different race and culture?
“Then when one of her friends is dressed as Moana she’s going to tell her it’s offensive because she’s not the same skin colour.
“This is literally forcing your kid to be racist. I understand and admire the efforts to remain respectful but she’s five.”
Perhaps the secret lies in trying to find a balance between being respectful but not taking things too far.
Whether your child is allowed to dress up in school or not, it’s important to respect not mock other cultures and not assume everyone celebrates and participates in Halloween.
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