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Your costume offends me; it really is that simple: Kabatay

With the endless options of non-offensive costumes, there are no excuses.

Growing up, we dressed in costumes influenced by pop culture and cartoons — not cultures or ethnic groups. It was monsters and princesses; works of fiction, writes Jasmine Kabatay.

Cathie Coward / Torstar News Service Order this photo

Growing up, we dressed in costumes influenced by pop culture and cartoons — not cultures or ethnic groups. It was monsters and princesses; works of fiction, writes Jasmine Kabatay.

It happens every year like clockwork.

With Halloween just around the corner, cultural appropriation is about to be everywhere.

On Monday, the Toronto Star published an op-ed from a woman who was disturbed that her child was sent home from school after a teacher called her costume offensive. The little girl was wearing a “Native princess” costume.

She feels this decision was a “horrible message to send to children,” that it stifles imagination and denies “that we share enough common humanity that we might be able, just for a day, to imagine ourselves as someone else.”

To that I say: check your privilege.

There is absolutely no excuse for any adult or child to dress up as a “Native princess” or anything depicting any race or culture. It offends people; it’s really that simple.

In her column, all that matters to her is how her daughter is feeling about the matter. Well what about all the Indigenous children that have to face these types of costumes in their own classrooms? I never had to, but I know I wouldn’t have been comfortable.

It’s our culture being mocked. Are we allowed to have feelings about these costumes or is that being “too sensitive?”

I’ll tell you how it makes me feel: disgusted. For one day people want to dress up in my culture without actually having the knowledge of what my people go through.

And worse, they don’t seem to care. None of these costumes being sold have any connections to Indigenous culture whatsoever. The “Native princess” concept isn’t real, and grossly over sexualizes Indigenous women who have been at the brunt of this type of violence for centuries, and continue to be today.

Growing up, we dressed in costumes influenced by pop culture and cartoons — not cultures or ethnic groups. It was monsters and princesses; works of fiction.

Social media campaign #IAmNotACostume has been spreading awareness for several years now, letting the general public know how costumes depicting negative stereotypes of Indigenous Peoples are harmful to Indigenous Peoples.

While caricatures of our culture may never fully leave, some stores are starting to take the hint.

Over the weekend, Wal-Mart Canada pulled Indigenous Halloween costumes from its website, including a “Native princess” outfit. The company told CBC it will review its “cultural sensitivity” guidelines.

Alana Sambey, manager of Malabar Limited in Toronto, told CBC news she has put a hold on purchasing products depicting other cultures, saying it “dehumanizes that culture.”

Halloween is a time for everyone to enjoy and dress up. I completely agree. But with endless options for non-offensive costumes, there are no excuses.

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