This spooky season, Zo has decided to make a very timely dress up. With alien life topping the news cycle this summer, and is sure to continue to do so, Zo carefully designed a new costume for the annual trick-or-treat. However, Alex the Alien isn’t super happy about this. After all, it’s clear Zo modeled her costume off of Alex’s look.
Zo loves spoofing her friends. If that’s the case, how can Alex respond? I think, if he dressed up with an extra poufy white fluff on his head, he’d make his point… We all know Zo would have clear feelings.
Sometimes, when we are selecting our costumes, we get an idea that we think is really epic. For whatever reason, that idea gets justified as just good fun. I am sure that Zo feels so in her case. In our excitement, we often may forget that dressing up as someone we know or idolize makes them a caricature. This is especially the case when it relies on stereotypes of a group and appropriation of their cultural items (types of clothing, regalia, hair, sacred objects, etc).
When mimicking a person alive or dead, we must think about our aim to accomplish those ends and how it will likely be received by others (and not just those in our midst, because our echo chamber isn’t the best source for humility and understanding). For instance, indigenous people have begged for years that people don’t wear costumes that cheapen their culture or sexualize their women. They face an ongoing genocide (see MMIW) and treating them as cartoons or sexualizing their people directly increases the threat. Yet, every year there are the inevitable takers in the game of gaucherie. The entitlement that coincides with it speaks to all the reasons why it happens.
Think before you gear up. And, before you start mocking these ideas with identifying as an attack helicopter, understand that your doubling down doesn’t make you look less entitled and ignorant.
Do you think what Zo has done was only good fun, or do you think this was gaucherie?
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