Hey! Are you into dressing your gentile child up like a Jew? Are you a Jewish child who’s apparently really uncreative when it comes to Halloween — or Purim? Wal-Mart has just the thing for you!
For some WEIRD-ASS reason, Wal-Mart carries an array of Jewish Halloween costumes! You know! Like those crazy black hats and those curly Qs on the sides of their heads! Hahaha. What’s that? Those actually have cultural significance? Hold on, you’re pulling my leg! Why would it be weird to dress up like a rabbi? I’VE SEEN FIDDLER ON THE ROOF. STOP JUDGING ME. I WANNA BE A JEWISH MOTHER FOR HALLOWEEN. Or maybe I want to dress up like the Torah. That’s not an important thing to y’all, right?
Look, using another culture as a costume or fashion statement needs to stop. There’s been outcries lately about just such disrespect like the Native American headdress in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show — so much so that “Miss November” was removed from the televised broadcast. How about Katy Perry and other white girls wearing traditional Indian bindis because they’re “like a tiara?”
So what’s the problem here? Why are Jews mad about the Wal-Mart costumes? Why were Native Americans pissed about “Miss November?” Let’s break it down:
1) Co-opting something that is significant to someone else so you can play dress up.
2) You don’t know the history or meaning of what you’re wearing.
3) You’re appropriating someone else’s culture. You, a member of a dominant culture, are taking and twisting something from a less dominant culture for your own means — usually for fashion or fun and not for the intended purpose.
For example, generally Jews don’t even celebrate Halloween. Or how about Thanksgiving being tied to mass slaughters of Native Americans and then using their traditional items for a fashion show to “represent” November, when it all happened? Yikes.
4) Pertaining to the Jewish costumes — what the heck is a Grand Rebbe? I am a Jew and I don’t think we have “grand” rebbes? We have regular rebbes? Clearly they didn’t consult any Jews on these masterpieces. Oy.
You get it, right? Imagine if it was something that meant a lot to you and your family. You’d wonder about the fine line between appreciation/curiosity and appropriation, which would make you feel very uncomfortable. Why do something that clearly hurts people? As Kurt Vonnegut wrote, Just be kind, babies. It shouldn’t be that hard to see why this isn’t kind.
You can read more about the Jew costumes here:
What’s a Jewish Costume? on Kveller
Wal-Mart Takes Diversity to Jew Level by Hipster Jew
In the meantime, I’m gonna have nightmares about a Halloween full of tiny Jewish mothers telling me I need to eat more and put on a sweater.
“Trick or treat! How come you never call anymore?!”