Halloween is the perfect holiday for using imagination with your kids and really letting them be what they want. Though that will always be the case, it’s also true that a lot of parents, and adults in general, don’t consider the broader message that their costume might be sending. Now, one mom’s viral post about opening a dialogue with her kids about culturally insensitive Halloween costumes is a viral must-read for parents.
It started when Sachi Feris’ daughter had watched both Moana and Frozen within a month of each other. As Halloween approached, five-year-old told her mom that she’d like to dress up as either Moana, a dark-skinned Polynesian, or as princess Elsa, a Scandinavian white woman. Ferris swiftly explained that for her white daughter to dress like a person of color would be blatant “cultural appropriation.”
“Elsa is an imaginary or made-up character. Moana is based on real history and a real group of people…” she wrote. “if we are going to dress up a real person, we have to make sure we are doing it in a way that is respectful. Otherwise, it is like we are making fun of someone else’s culture.”
Interestingly, Feris had a few opinions about her daughter dressing as Elsa too. For Feris, it would essentially be the same as perpetuating a wiry standard that gives preference to white those with white skin.
“There is one thing I don’t like about the character of Elsa. I feel like because Elsa is a White princess, and we see so many White princesses, her character sends the message that you have to be a certain way to be “beautiful” or to be a “princess”…that you have to have White skin, long, blonde hair, and blue eyes,” she thought. “And I don’t like that message. You are White, like Elsa—if you dressed up as a character like Moana, who has brown skin, you would never change your skin color. But I’m not sure I like the idea of you changing your hair color to dress up as Elsa—because I think Elsa’s character could also be a short, brown-haired character like you.”