Why do People Wear Offensive Halloween Costumes?

Pharrell Williams wearing traditional headdress on the cover of Julys issue of Elle Photograph: Elle Photograph

Pharrell Williams wearing traditional headdress on the cover of July’s issue of Elle Photograph: Elle Photograph

Chloe Reynolds, Journalist

Halloween is the time of year when you get to wear just about anything you want and have fun with friends and family. Kids go trick or treating, and parents get to have a break and relax with each other, but as fun as this is, certain aspects can be harmful. The problem with everybody being able to dress as whatever they want can cause controversial issues. During this time of the year celebrities get to dress in offensive costumes and get away with it by saying the simplest apology. If you walk around in Halloween stores it’s painfully obvious almost every “female” costume is overly sexulized . Million dollar companies get away with selling literal cultural appropriation and get barely any backlash for doing so.


When celebrities do something like cultural appropriation they end up claiming it’s just a “costume” they then say a weak apology and just get away with it. Plus some celebrities don’t even comment on their actions, as if what they did wasn’t even important enough to even apologize. Fans go back to loving them like nothing happened and their wrong doings get pushed into the dirt. And if anyone tries to dig up their problematic past it just gets ignored.

Chris Brown and his friends dressed as “terrorist” posted on Chris’s Instagram on October 31 2012.

One celebrity that didn’t even apologize for what they did is Chris brown. Him and some of his friends went to Rihanna’s Halloween party all dressed up as terrorist. They dressed up in traditional muslim clothing with big beards and lots of guns and ammo. He posted photos on social media even crediting the people who made his costume. Just by the sound of this it’s obvious that what he did was wrong considering the amount of racism towards muslims. This costume shows disrespectful stereotypes towards muslim people and is outright wrong. And after promoting such racist behavior the celebrity didn’t even apologize for the people he harmed.


Another big thing that happened involves both Pharrell Williams and Harry Styles, the two both wore a traditional Native headdress for a magazine. The headdress is a very sacred part of Native culture and most Indigenous people won’t even wear it because of the fact it is so important to the culture. After getting backlash on twitter Pharrell apologized, stating . “I respect and honor every kind of race, background and culture. I am genuinely sorry.” Of course this isn’t the best apology but I appreciate the fact that Pharrell took the time to actually learn from his mistakes unlike someone.

Spirit’s Halloween Voodoo Magic shot on October 14 2022 by Chloe Reynolds

Of course as time goes on people learn from their mistakes but the least a celebrity can do is take the time to learn and give back to the communities that they once hurt. It takes very little time to see what is wrong for some cultures and what isn’t. For example costumes like “Dream catcher”, “ sexy shooter happy hour”,”Men’s Arab Sheik Costume”,” Rasta Costume Kit”, “voodoo magic”, and any form of day of the dead outfits. Some cultures don’t mind if you get inspiration from their work but other cultures that are more protective of their work. Since some cultures have been killed and shamed for their clothes they don’t appreciate it being used as a funny stupid costume. And most of these costumes bring harmful stereotypes with the culture or race, making people of that race or culture really uncomfortable.

If stores stopped selling this kind of stuff and celebrities stopped promoting these types of actions, then this process of demeaning cultures could stop. Being respectful of one’s culture should be normalized instead of wearing stuff like what Chris Brown wore. I believe that if someone is inspired or wants to wear traditional clothes of one’s culture they should take the time to actually learn and research if it’s ok to do so. Which is why people should be creative when choosing Halloween costumes but should also be respectful of others when doing so.