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Ohio STARS 2012 Costume Campaign

Woo-hoo! Halloween is just around the corner! What are you dressing up as? A witch? A pirate? A clown? A nun? An inappropriately sexy fairy tale character?

There are a lot of options for playing dress up during Halloween. While you’re thinking about your costume, the Ohio STARS – Students Teaching About Racism in Society – asks you to think before you settle on a costume. For the past two years they have launched a poster campaign aimed at bringing awareness to racially and culturally insensitive and offensive costumes.

I’d also say have a second thought about woman- and gay-bashing costumes. Maybe leave the ditzy blonde, the dirty hooker and flaming queer costumes at home this year?

These are three of the posters from the “We’re a culture, not a costume” campaign. This year’s theme is “You wear the costume for one night. I wear the stigma for life.” You can click on any of the images to be redirected to the STARS webpage, which includes all six of this year’s posters as well as those from the 2011 campaign, “This is not who I am, and this is not okay.”

.         Asian Stereotype Costume African Stereotype Costume Black Stereotype Costume

I think this campaign is targeted to people who may be unaware of the implicit racism that is prevalent in so many Halloween costumes. Hell, the costume companies do a great job at perpetuating racial and cultural stereotypes in their manufactured, packaged ensembles, and if they say it’s okay… Last weekend I stopped in to one of the temporary Halloween stores that pop up at this time of year and saw getups for a drunk Mexican, a ghetto pimp, and a hillbilly hick. Srsly?

Have fun, dress up as whatever you like. Only you know the company and context in which you and your costume will be seen, and this does play a role in appropriateness. Or maybe you’re going for inappropriate. *shrugs*

No one’s telling you what to wear, just asking you to be aware of what message you and your costume will be sending. Are you cool with it? Cool. Does it make you uncomfortable? Go change.

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