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Monday, September 25, 2023
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Your Jeffrey Dahmer costume isn’t clever — it’s offensive

Don’t be ignorant this Halloween

Halloween is the time of year for strategic scares. 

Chilly weather and changing leaves mean it’s time for people to startle their friends, watch the goriest horror movies and create the cleverest or most frightening costume.

But for people of color, members of LGBTQ+ communities and other marginalized groups, Halloween presents challenges other than simply carving the best jack-o’-lantern. It’s the time of year when they’re forced to realize how problematic their peers are capable of being. 

Halloween costumes are supposed to be an opportunity to demonstrate creativity and individuality. 

But as I’ve been scrolling on Tik Tok throughout this past week, I’ve seen costume inspiration videos that are extremely offensive and in poor taste.

Dressing as offensive figures or communities you do not personally belong to mocks traditions, experiences and practices that you will never take part in, relate to, or understand — and it says a lot about your character too.

I thought my only obstacles for this year would be the typical Native American and Chulo “costumes.”

But with the rise of serial killer documentaries and television series, dressing up as infamous murderers has made its way as one of the most popular costume choices of the year—including children and adult costumes.

Dressing as Jeffrey Dahmer, for example, perpetuates the idea that the horrible crimes he committed against LGBTQ+ people and people of color are all in good fun. 

Going out of your way to buy a costume that mimics Dahmer over-sensationalizes the very tragic and very real acts he committed. It disregards the people who are left traumatized from that event. 

Nobody’s goal for Halloween night should be to fetishsize serial killers or fail to take the feelings of the victims’ surviving family members into consideration. 

If you’re reading this and thinking, “Then what can I dress as?”: you’re part of the problem.

If all of your costume ideas center around being racist, homophobic or offensive, then not only are you insufferable, but you also are most likely lacking creativity and critical thinking skills. 

Halloween is the perfect time to dress up as something terrifying — be a ghost, a vampire or a werewolf. 

Dress as your favorite TV show character, artist or athlete (who hasn’t committed sexual misconduct). 

Don’t dress up as something racist, homophobic or insensitive. Your costume won’t disguise your ignorance.  

Being a member of a marginalized community is scary enough — let’s not make it worse by wearing inappropriate, insensitive or stupid Halloween costumes. 

Kayla Estrada is a senior news/features editor and can be reached at

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Kayla Estrada is a senior news/features editor at The Spectrum. She is an English major who enjoys rainy weather, “Bob’s Burgers” and asking people who they voted for. When she’s not writing, she can be found hunting for odd-looking knick-knacks at the nearest thrift store.  



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