Their Culture Is Not Your Costume

Their Culture Is Not Your Costume

This Halloween, avoid appropriation.
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Halloween is fast approaching, with all of its beloved haunts. In 2017, cultural appropriation shouldn’t be among them.

Defined as "the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture,” the concept has only recently entered the American vernacular, but consistently stirs up controversy. It’s unsurprising, given that the ‘melting pot’ metaphor is so historically distinct in the states, but with generational change comes ideological change. The norms that allowed for the sale of a Native American or Hey Amigo costume are no longer tolerated.

With cultural appropriation comes the erasure of the identity behind the culture. Native American costumes and the like condense people into singular images, and often ground them in depictions that are archaic. Distinct groups of people are watered down, wholly summated by sombreros or bindis. They are reduced to characters, on par with Harley Quinn and Batman.

The controversy is most visible when the aspects of a culture taken are celebrated on a person separate from it, but disparaged when in their proper context. Where cornrows are a popularized style on the Alexander McQueen runways, Black students at Malden charter school face detention and suspension when they wear their braids; Kylie Jenner covers Teen Vogue with her hair in dreads but on Zendaya, the style gives the impression that she “smells like patchouli oil or weed.”

Cultural differences often sustain structural inequalities in society, but on Halloween, there is widespread failure to acknowledge them.

Norwegian financial minister Siv Jensen became the subject of criticism on Friday, October 13th, after posting a photo of herself dressed in stereotypical Native American garb. Comments fall in the thousands, the majority of which echo the sentiment that a culture is not a costume. The incident has stayed out of dominant news cycles, and no statement has been procured from Jensen with regards to the backlash she’s received.

The phrase “We’re a culture, not a costume,” derives from a poster campaign conducted by Ohio University, depicting minority students with photos of people dressed as their monetized stereotypes. The result is poignant, especially when captioned “You wear the costume for one night. I wear the stigma for life.”

The idea that cultural appropriation is a liberalist overreaction to what is undoubtedly cultural exchange denies that in exchange, those from whom something is taken are repaid by some means. The ethnic groups and consequent stereotypes off of which Party City profits make no benefit to those ethnic groups. Rather, they nullify the often damaging racial and social dynamics that have impacted those groups over the course of history. They permit people to selectively engage with a culture for one night, without being impacted by the trials that members of that culture endure. They make light of the personhood that cultural groups have been denied.

Halloween is beloved for its fright. Ignorance shouldn’t be the cause for it.

Cover Image Credit: misshelsinkiofficial / Instagram

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19 Struggles Only Girls With The 'Looks Thin In Clothes But Not In A Bikini' Body Type Will Understand

A resounding 'thank you' to whoever decided one-pieces were cool again.
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We grew up thinking the world was black and white. There's tall people and short people. There's old people and young people.

There's fat people and skinny people.

But as you get older, you realize there is a lot more in between those two ends of the spectrum than you ever thought possible. Especially when it comes to weight. And you do a lot more realizing if you're in an awkward position on that scale... Literally.

1. People always tell you to stop saying you are fat

Obviously, your friends SHOULD prevent you from talking negatively about yourself. And if you only saw you when you were fully dressed, you'd probably tell yourself to stop saying you're fat, too.

2. And are kind of surprised by your actual weight

You've definitely had friends who are shocked by the number on your scale because you can carry it pretty well when you are fully dressed.

3. Sometimes you feel like a catfish

Have you ever changed out of your super cute, flattering outfit and looked at yourself in the mirror and thought... Wow, am I lying to people?

4. But you know this is probably true for most people

When you're wearing clothes, typically the parts of a body that bring about insecurities (stomach, namely) are covered. No matter the body type, you realize most people are more comfortable in clothes than out of them.

5. Your confidence is often contingent on the month

November? Yep, won't need to be in shorts or a bikini for about 7-8 months. I am good to go.

February? I'll need to be in a bikini soon.. I could use some work.

6. You are thrilled by the one-piece bathing suit making a fashion come back

A resounding 'thank you' to whoever decided it was time to give one-pieces a try again. The stomachs of us in-between gals are appreciative.

7. Crop tops are 95% of the time not your top of choice

Yeah, okay, clothes are supposed to work for me and not against me.

8. You honestly don't understand jean sizes

I have fluctuated in weight a lot of my life, most recently losing 25lbs, and I still did not budge in jean sizes.

9. You wonder what other people think when they see you

Do other people see me as thin in clothing? Or fat in a bikini? What size am I perceived as?

10. Shopping is kind of a nightmare

Have you ever found about 27 items you liked, added the prices and thought, ah, it is going to be so tough to choose from all of these items? Only to go into the fitting room and realize only 2 of the items fit you well? Yep, me every single time I go to the store.

SEE ALSO: 7 Struggles Of Being The Girl Who Is "Not Skinny" But Also "Not Fat"

11. You're thankful that at least you've got boobs

You can kind of hide them in clothes, and then let them steal the show away from your tummy in a swimsuit.

12. You have a hard time setting weight-loss goals

You aren't really sure how overweight you are (if you are, at all) and you don't want to be at an unhealthy weight on either side of the spectrum.

13. Body positivity comes and goes

There are days, weeks or even months when you feel like the most beautiful person on the planet, and then something happens (old jeans don't fit, you try on a new bathing suit, etc.) and you convince yourself that all of that confidence was wrong and undeserved.

14. You always try on the biggest size first

Either this or you're in a weird limbo between the smallest plus sizes size and the biggest generic sizes size.

15. Half of you knows every body is a bikini body, and half of you is convinced that yours is not

You know that your body is worthy of wearing whatever you want to wear, but looking at yourself and seeing what society (and you) sometimes deem as unattractive can eat away at that knowledge.

16. But you also know self-love and confidence are key to beauty

Even if you have to fake it, you know that feeling confident is going to carry you pretty far.

17. Being in a bathing suit is a constant game of readjustment

Okay, I am sitting. Pull the bottoms up to cover as much as my stomach as possible and the back of the top down to cover any back rolls.

18. You've avoided the mirror after a shower before

You know that you are just going to lose all the comfort you felt in your body during the day when you see yourself, so sometimes it is best to just avoid it.

19. Ultimately, you know your beauty is not contingent on what you are wearing

The goal for everyone should be to get to a point where it doesn't matter if you're in a snowsuit, a bathing suit or a birthday suit... You can see your beauty no matter what and feel confident despite what you have on. It'll take time, but falling in love with the way you look is worth it.

Cover Image Credit: Sara Petty

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The End Of The Year Itch

The final stretch until summer time.
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It is the almost the most wonderful time of the year: summer vacation! If you’re like me that means an internship and work but getting to stay in your favorite city! Plus living with my best friend!

That also means you are probably experiencing what I call the end of the year itch, it’s that super uncomfortable and irritating transition from school to a summer vacation that drives me absolutely mad.

This is the time right before you take final exams that you truly feel like you might rip all of your hair out if summer doesn’t get here soon! Just me? Probably.

We've arrived at the last stop before break and professors are frisbeeing assignments left and right. The library is no longer a peaceful place but rather a funhouse of chaos hinted with a tense, anxiety-filled atmosphere. Study rooms are long gone and booked so it's every man for himself.

If you live with people this is the time that y'all are starting to drive each other beyond crazy, and are in need of some time apart especially if you plan on living together the following year.

I have lived with 6+ people since my freshman year of college and this has always proven true. Absence does make the heart grow fonder and is the silent glue that holds a friendship together. I love the feeling of being back at school with my friends and hearing all about their summer adventures while also looking forward to the future.

And don't forget the little things you have to take care of like canceling your parking pass for the summer, finding a place to sublease or a subleaser, and all of the packing/unpacking it takes to move out of one place and into another. Whew! There is no greater feeling than the sweet relief of being moved in/out and unpacked.

Then finally the heat wave hits, you don't have to use the words exam or group project for two and half months. That end of the year itch is covered by a suntan and there are nothing but blue skies my friend. You may be busy with other things but hey at least you're not in class, right?

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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