Halloween PC: Is dressing your kid like Indian Goddess rude?

I know it seems early to be talking about Halloween but we’ve already gotten three Halloween costume catalogs in the mail.

Wishcraft by Chasing Fireflies offers upscale costumes worthy of a Broadway stage. Many of the costumes are priced higher than $50 with some are around $100. There are dragons, Marie Antoinettes, musketeers, golden rapunzels, kangaroos, giraffes, and even Medussa.

I didn’t have an issue with Aztec princess, Cleopatra, Japanese empress Lotus Blossom, but for some reason the Indian Goddess Durga costume, which features multiple fake arms, just struck me as wrong.

The magazine features a beautiful child-size Indian sari, which I think Indian children at school would appreciate and might be flattered by. But somehow the multi-armed Goddess Durga costume seemed in bad taste. Maybe because it’s a religious figure versus just a historical or cultural one?

I think if a kid showed up as Jesus at school or around the neighborhood some fur would fly. (They might get away with St. Peter or John the Baptist.)

Would Arabs be offended by the Sultan and genie costumes? Would Native Americans be offended by the Indian costumes that look like they are straight off the Lone Ranger TV show from the ’50s?

Am I reading too much into this? Would the kids, parents or teachers at school be offended by the Indian Goddess with multiple arms costume? What other costumes might cross the line from dressing up to mocking? Or should kids be able to wear anything they can put together?

66 comments Add your comment

JJ

August 31st, 2010
9:25 am

Unbelievable…….

JATL

August 31st, 2010
9:29 am

I’m sure in our overly-PC society, that you sadly have a point, but I’m an equal opportunity “offender.” I enjoy making fun of everything, and I don’t even see a kid (or an adult) dressing up as an Indian goddess, Jesus or anything else as offensive. Some people might view it as tasteless, but I would be FAR more offended at some of the slut-wear costumes they’re selling for not only teenagers but “tweens.” One of our catalogs has a bunch of 10 and 11 year old girls all tarted up in “sexified” take offs on vampires, witches, ghosts,etc. THAT is offensive! Instead of thinking they’re mocking a religion, maybe they’re SO into it they wanted to dress like a certain deity -ever thought of that? Plus, if you’re NOT a certain religion, I have big problems with people getting offended on the behalf of others. IF the Indian defamation league wants to raise cain about it -let them do it.

Andrea

August 31st, 2010
9:30 am

I don’t get upset generally with Halloween costumes. (I really pray this topic does not start the “Halloween is for devil worshippers” debate) I do see however, why one would be offended at a costume that may (or be perceived to) be based on a religious symbol. People’s buttons get pushed over different things. To some, the costume may be a tribute of sorts and to others it would be an affront to the sanctity of the religion. Just depends on how you look at it.

I think more often than not, the uproar tends to be based on being politically correct. In some areas it is more prevalent than others. I noticed last year that more kids were starting to wear rosary beads as necklaces. They were clueless to the what the rosary represents. I don’t think all of those kids were intending to thumb their noses at Catholicism, but they simply did not know and they were mimicing what they saw someone else wear.

The Braves used to have Chief Knock-a-homa (sp?) and his teepee at the games but they had to stop it because Native Americans found it offensive. I don’t think the Braves intended to mock anyone, but they didn’t know that there were parts of the costume that had some religious significance.

It is sad. I have such great memories of Halloween as a kid but my kids don’t. Many people don’t celebrate it and I am so tired of hearing lectures about the costumes. It has just bummed me on the entire holiday.

lakerat

August 31st, 2010
9:35 am

Though this was not a “Halloween” event, the best un-politically correct thing I have seen was when my youngest son was in high school – at one of his basketball games we played St. Pius (an Atlanta area local catholic school for those not in Atlanta); anyway, we had a kid dress up like the Pope – it was hysterical, and only one mother from the St. Pius contingent was upset (of course, it may have had more to do with them losing the game they were supposed to win, but she still claim righteous indignation!).

So, yes, it may not be PC, but they are kids having fun, so there is nothing wrong with it (now if they do some other insensitive stuff, that may be crossing the line, but that is for another day).

Andrea

August 31st, 2010
9:40 am

What truly amazes me is: Why on earth would you spend $50 to $100 on a Halloween costume for a child? Yikes! We always try to make ours but clearly we are “old school” on that one. LOL

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

August 31st, 2010
9:50 am

andrea believe me honey we are not spending anything on costumes this year — if they can’t make it from what we have they won’t be wearing it. we just like to look at pretty pictures! somebody must be spending it though — i can’t imagine who in this economy. warren buffet’s grandkids???? Jessica Alba — Kate Gosselin maybe??

So, now you're offended

August 31st, 2010
9:56 am

for other people too?

I mean, it wasn’t enough to just be offended for yourself, you’ve decided to be offended for other groups!

Maybe you could ask one of your Hindu friends if they find this costume offensive.

1911A1

August 31st, 2010
10:01 am

The only Indian goddess I know of is Suchita Vadlamani.

JATL

August 31st, 2010
10:01 am

@TWG -we get the Chasing Fireflies catalogs too, and I’m always shocked at the costume prices and the fact that evidently many buy them! I’m shocked that anyone would pay $80 for a toddler girl’s tutu as well, but they also sell those in the regular catalog.

@ Andrea -I’m sorry you’ve gotten bummed on Halloween! It’s my favorite holiday! I don’t know where you live, but if you live anywhere near the city, we have a GREAT Halloween parade and festival in Grant Park on the 30th. The kids all parade around the park in their costumes and then we have a little party afterward. Trick or Treating is alive and well in Grant Park, Ormewood Park and Boulevard Heights. Not everyone participates, but many do, and it’s so refreshing!

ha

August 31st, 2010
10:02 am

TWG with hindu friends? i bet her friends are as diverse as a bag of white rice.

motherjanegoose

August 31st, 2010
10:04 am

My daughter was an Indian princess years ago. Her Dad is part Cherokee and he was fine with it!
Who knows now?

Can’t recall seeing anyone ever dressed as Jesus but I have seen lots of kids dressed as the Devil.
Does that make a difference?

@ Andrea…I am with you on the negative tone for Halloween. My October show is PUMPKIN TIME and it is very popular…nothing scary! I do have folks who ask me how I can share an EVIL program. Hello….are candy, cats, pumpkins or owls evil?

Perhaps some today might share the neatest costume they have ever seen….to me, that would be fun and give plenty of time for others to whip up their own version in time for Halloween!

@ T…one year my son ( 10 or so) wanted a Spiderman costume. I suggested we paper mache’
( sp?)the mask, to save money. It took us quite some time and it rained that Halloween…not a good move….LOL. $20 would have been a better bet!

@lakerat…the pope to me, is very clever!

motherjanegoose

August 31st, 2010
10:11 am

@JATL… if you live out of the city and IN THE SOUTH…you will get the poo poo towards Halloween.

I was in NJ once and politely asked, “Do you folks celebrate Halloween at school?”
Answer, “Of course why wouldn’t we…is something wrong with it?”

It is soup to nuts on Halloween, as far as opinions go.

I love the fun aspect and the dressing up. One of my favorite shows to share in schools, with the children too! The kids love the silliness and suspense.

Kate

August 31st, 2010
10:21 am

The only thing I find offensive about the Durga costume is the price! At least it covers all the kid’s private parts, which is a lot more than I can say about some of the Halloween costumes I’ve seen for girls, even ones designed for young children. Some of them are not just offensive, they’re downright creepy.

I wish I could get my son to wear something as mundane as an Indian costume. Ever since he was old enough to voice an opinion on the subject he’s insisted on dressing as a skeleton or zombie or some other equally age-inappropriate character!

Halloween is my favorite

August 31st, 2010
10:22 am

Holiday!

As a kid, trick or treating was just the best. Then as a teenager, we had so much fun making mischief (toilet papering houses ect), then as a college student going to costume parties where girls wore next to nothing, and now as a parent I get to take the kid trick-or-treating and relive the whole experience.

I’ll take ONE Halloween over 20 Thanksgivings!

Over the life of a person they get

Trick or treating>vandalism>sex>trick oor treating

Something for everyone!

Becky

August 31st, 2010
10:22 am

My nephews stepkids are Indian and I don’t think that any of the costumes would offend them..

@Andrea..I’m with you on the cost..We love Halloween, but there is no way that I’m spending more than $25.00 on a costume..Maybe not even that much..We usually make something from things we have around the house also..Quiet a few years ago, a group of us dressed up as the Fruit of the Loom guys for a contest (and won) and we only spent maybe $50.00 for all 4 of us…

Halloween is my favorite

August 31st, 2010
10:23 am

“Ever since he was old enough to voice an opinion on the subject he’s insisted on dressing as a skeleton or zombie or some other equally age-inappropriate character”

Man, my son loves the scary stuff too, but I embrace it, rathher than complain about it.

penguinmom

August 31st, 2010
10:26 am

what I loved about the costume was the ‘you might also like’ stuffed Bengal tiger for … $948.00!!! LOL!

I can see someone who is very sensitive being offended by this but, it really is just a costume. As long as the intent was not to poke fun at someone in the class, I don’t think it should be a big deal.

Kate

August 31st, 2010
10:34 am

@Halloween

Oh, I’m not complaining! I found the sight of him at 3 years old dressed as a mutant zombie (I’m not really sure what one of those looks like, but I think his costume was pretty realistic) hilarious, but I don’t think some of my neighbors shared my opinion! Halloween before last he insisted on being the Joker from that last Batman movie. Unfortunately, they didn’t make a child size version of that costume (or at least if they did we couldn’t find it) so we had to stick our 6 year old in an adult size small. He looked kind of deflated, but he was very proud of his costume!

JJ

August 31st, 2010
10:50 am

Well, enjoy it while you can, because pretty soon, we won’t be able to celebrate the changing of the seasons/Halloween. It will become too offensive to the Muslims. Can’t have that ya know…..

Sonny

August 31st, 2010
11:02 am

Blasfemy! Blasfemy I tell you! yull all bern at the steak for this one!!!! Haloween makes baby jesus cry!

Photius

August 31st, 2010
11:05 am

I like the costumes made from scratch! I really like the kids who display blood and guts! I can’t say I’ve ever seen an offensive Halloween costume?

JATL

August 31st, 2010
11:07 am

@MJG -funny, I grew up an HOUR south of Atlanta IN THE SOUTH and my small, religion-filled hometown LOVED AND STILL LOVES Halloween -and so do the small towns surrounding it. My parents house usually sees between 150 and 200 trick or treaters and only one nutjob writes her annual editorial to the paper every year about how evil it all is and everyone else laughs at her. If memory serves you did NOT grow up here, so don’t judge the rest of the south by your transplant-filled suburban subdivision or the schools you happen to visit -just because a school isn’t celebrating (and I know many around here that do) doesn’t mean the neighborhood and community isn’t. I know there are plenty of southern Bible-thumping, anti-Halloween nuts out there, but it’s strange -in all of my travels around the deep south and here in my home state during the month of October, I usually see quite a lot of Halloween decorations, Halloween carnivals and a general air of fun surrounding the holiday. Sorry if you live in a downer area, but lots of places here and out of the city are NOT that way.

TechMom

August 31st, 2010
11:11 am

I love Halloween regardless of what all the Southern Baptists say (Ok, and some regular Baptists and Methodists too). I see no problem with dressing up and having a little fun but people in the south love to get high and mighty about it being a satanic holiday. We’ve grown to ignore the naysayers.

I always steered the boy away from scary, creepy costumes and typically we go for funny stuff or at least fun when he was little. Last year my son (14 at the time) begged me to buy him an Obama mask and he made a shirt that said, “Hand over your candy so I can redistribute it”. Politically offensive to some but it still got lots of laughs (and cost us a total of about $12 since I got the mask on sale). I know some of our neighbors were offended but it was meant to be a joke and I would have laughed if they showed up with a George W mask on stuttering…

TechMom

August 31st, 2010
11:13 am

@JATL I live south of the city and there are lots of naysayers around here. There are plenty of us who don’t care about those naysayers (even if we do sit next to them at church).

jmb

August 31st, 2010
11:26 am

JATL, I like you was wondering where the #$% did she get her facts. I currently live outside the city IN THE SOUTH and our town LOVES the holiday. Don’t you love the way entire towns get stereotyped by someone who’s never even visited.

Warrior Woman

August 31st, 2010
11:27 am

@JATL – I’m with you. The slutwear passing for chilren’s costumes is far more offensive than a Native American costume or a Hindu goddess costume.

@MJG – I’ve found far more city folks than country folks to be down on Halloween because of political correctness, and the anti-Halloween because of religion folks to be equally scattered (both North-South and urban-rural)

TechMom

August 31st, 2010
11:38 am

I agree with MJG – Halloween is WAY more acceptable outside of the south. Has it become more acceptable in the past 10-15 years? Sure but the fact of the matter is that it’s still a bigger holiday outside of the south.

What’s the big hoopla about that observation anyway? Are you offended by it?

motherjanegoose

August 31st, 2010
11:39 am

@JATL…our neighborhood LOVES HALLOWEEN…we have tons of tricker treaters, so I really do not live in an area that poo poos it. We all sit out in front of our houses and visit in between the trick or treaters! Our last outside get together before it is dark way too early!

I can only speak from my experience,being inside over 50 schools all across the metro Atlanta for over 12 years. I have found an increase in the schools who are not celebrating Halloween. I have not been in all schools! Also, I find that teachers in the southern states are the ones who tell me they are not allowed to celebrate Halloween. I was once at a conference where they told me some national early childhood standards are now opposed to ANY specific holiday celebrations…NOT SURE on that one but I was taken back!

The teachers in NE, Midwest, Mountain and Western states have never mentioned anything against Halloween, to me. There are schools here in Atlanta metro that cannot even put up a pumpkin.

Some of you probably know that Halloween is now called FALL FESTIVAL …similar to the Christmas Party being a Winter Party.

T…does your school have a “Halloween Party”?

YOU ARE CORRECT that I lived in the Chicago area until HS. I have lived in Atlanta, for the past 20 plus years and the trend ( here) is often going away from celebrating Halloween. When I was first teaching here 20 years ago, many schools allowed children to dress up and even had Halloween Parties/Parades. Not as much in the public schools in Gwinnett. I do not work in your area, so I certainly cannot speak for it.

I have been in schools all across the United States and I have seen more anxiety about children celebrating Halloween in the southern states. The children in Anchorage, Alaska and LOVED my show and the teachers had fun too! I love the holiday myself and see it is a lot of fun for kids and adults! Too bad some want to eliminate it.

motherjanegoose

August 31st, 2010
11:49 am

CLARIFYING…I am not saying TOWNS ( southern or northern) do not celebrate Halloween…I am speaking of schools having decorations, parties or celebrations within their four walls. Sorry for the confusion. I am in my educational orbit as usual.

I could not possibly be in all towns in any geographic location…I KNOW THIS!

I am only speaking from my own experience and sharing what I have seen and heard.

OFF TOPIC….but thinking of yard decorations for various holidays:

I once saw a GIANT PLASTIC SWAN with a Virgin Mary statue perched on top on someone’s front lawn in either Rhode Island or Vermont ( near Easter) . I got a good laugh out of that as the NEIGHBORHOOD CLONES IN OUR SUBDIVISIONS WOULD HAVE A FIT WITH THAT. I recently had to make sure my exterior paint would be in sync with our neighborhood rules!

Lori

August 31st, 2010
11:55 am

I think everything is what you make of it. If YOU think the costume is offensive, then don’t wear it. Who cares what anyone else thinks. If YOU think celebrating Halloween is worshiping the devil, then don’t celebrate it. I don’t care what others think. I think Halloween is a time to get dressed up, have some fun, and eat some treats. Nothing more.

Kate

August 31st, 2010
12:01 pm

The anti-Halloween brigade or a small, but very vocal, minority.

What MJG said about “fall festivals” reminded me of something. The only true Halloween party my son has ever been to at school was, ironically, at his church run pre-school. Last year his class at a public elementary school held a “Fall”party, and his school sent a note home informing us that the kids were NOT allowed to wear Halloween costumes. The principal claimed the no-costume rule was county policy, not the school’s.

Kate

August 31st, 2010
12:03 pm

Sorry, should be are, not or.

BlondeHoney

August 31st, 2010
12:12 pm

Hmmmm I grew up between NY and Miami and never heard of not celebrating Halloween until I moved to Ga 5 years ago. Always had a blast with my two boys on Halloween…I remember one year my younger son dressed as a cheerleader, resplendent in a blonde wig, and both of them dressed as Beavis and Butthead one year. Hilarious.

lakerat

August 31st, 2010
1:01 pm

As I have said before, I am a native southerner since I am a native Atlantan – I lived in 5 southern states growing up and have NEVER had anyone, anywhere not enjoy Halloween – I am a Southern Baptist, too, and the churches at which I have been a member in those 5 states (for over 50 years) have ALL celebrated Halloween with kids parties, etc.

lakerat

August 31st, 2010
1:03 pm

And we could even where devil costumes to those Baptist church parties as kids -

LongtimeEducator

August 31st, 2010
1:25 pm

As a former classroom teacher for 33 years, I’ve found attitudes about Halloween have changed within the last 20 years. Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s there were no issues with Halloween activities in the Dunwoody area schools of Dekalb Co. I changed to Cobb County in 1985, and we were allowed to have Halloween themed things up in the classroom, but were cautioned against anything with a ghost, witch, or devil. By the early 1990’s, we were discouraged from having ANYTHING Halloween related in our classrooms (in W. Cobb County).

RJ

August 31st, 2010
1:45 pm

Southern born and bred woman here and I can assure you that I celebrated Halloween every year as a kid. My kids also celebrate Halloween. Now when my daughter attended Catholic school there were no school activities, instead kids dressed up for All Saints Day. I often hear kids say that it’s “the devil’s birthday”. But I’m quick to tell them the truth.

To answer the initial question, the best way to determine if dressing like an Indian princess is rude is simply to ask an Indian that practies that religion. Not all Indians do.

motherjanegoose

August 31st, 2010
2:12 pm

@ RJ…maybe I am missing something here….I assume that you are a mother and thus perhaps are perhaps 30 ish, with kids in school. You mentioned:

Southern born and bred woman here and I can assure you that I celebrated Halloween every year as a kid, as did many of the folks I know here from the south.

MY POINT, is that schools RECENTLY are not as apt to celebrate Halloween. I have just seen this trend in the past 10-12 years or so but “longtime educator” ( she perhaps got my train of thought?) mentioned that it has been around since the early 1990’s?

1…I love Halloween
2…I celebrate Halloween
3…I put up Halloween decorations and have even written Halloween songs
4…I see lots of kids and teachers who are unable to enjoy Halloween as some of us celebrated it when we were kids, due to decisions in their school districts….why is this so?
5…I am not trying to convince anyone to agree with me but I have clients ( mainly in the south) who will not book my PUMPKIN TIME program as they are not allowed to celebrate Halloween anymore.
Some cannot book the Christmas program either….

October is still one of my busiest months/topics but several try to discourage me from offering it and, so far, I have no plans to do so.

I WOULD be curious to hear from parents who have elementary school children and can let us know where and when they do or do not allow dress up and celebrating. Not necessarily from parents whose children are now grown ( like mine) and want us to know their kids certainly did enjoy Halloween. MINE DID TOO!

Sorry, if I am the only one on this train of thought…I certainly could be and if so, please proceed with the comments about appropriate costumes that will not offend anyone.

First time poster

August 31st, 2010
2:28 pm

My daughter is in 7th grade now, when she was in elementary, from K on, there was no celebrating Halloween. It was a “fall festival” no ghosts, witches, etc. allowed. Trust me, I had a difficult time coming up with games/activities that would interest the kids and kind of sort of reflect the real reason for the party…Halloween, without actually being able to say Halloween. Pretty stupid if you ask me.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

August 31st, 2010
2:30 pm

several thoughts —- I think the school’s usually call it fall celebration or fall festival although I think last year as roommom I bought plates and cups with monsters on them — silly scary not really scary -more like the big red tooth on Bugs Bunny– In kindergarten they were allowed to wear costumes to school and do a parade but not after that —

Ha — Gwinnett has always had a large Indian population even back in the 80s when I was growing up. We had four African-Americans in our entire high school but a whole bunch of Indians even back then.I dated an Indian guy in high school and my very best friend through high and today is Indian. Maybe that is why I am sensitive to someone dressing up as an Indian God. I wonder how my friends and their children would feel about that. As a family we have many many friends of color — Asians, Indians, African-Americans, Hispanics …. As my kids are part Asian I want for them to have many friends of color and I want our community to be very mixed. It is important that my children — and I think children in general — be exposed to more than one perspective on life —

Hey, T...

August 31st, 2010
2:44 pm

This whole blog has been thinking “American Indian” and now you clarify by saying “Gwinnett has always had a large Indian population even back in the 80s when I was growing up”, meaning India Indians. Hence, this takes on a whole ‘nother meaning of political correctness since many of us thought “American Indian” (see motherjanes comment about her Cherokee husband). Thanks for taking 6 hours to clarify…

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

August 31st, 2010
2:49 pm

I disagree that that was unclear — I actually mention Native Americans further down in the blog and asked specifically about their outfits as well and link to a Native American costume as well —– so I had both Indians in the blog See below

I didn’t have an issue with Aztec princess, Cleopatra, Japanese empress Lotus Blossom, but for some reason the Indian Goddess Durga costume, which features multiple fake arms, just struck me as wrong.

Would Arabs be offended by the Sultan and genie costumes? Would Native Americans be offended by the Indian costumes that look like they are straight off the Lone Ranger TV show from the ’50s?

OK...

August 31st, 2010
2:56 pm

…I guess I am the only dumba–; and that is nothing new – mea culpa!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

August 31st, 2010
2:59 pm

that’s ok — we still love you whoever you are!

motherjanegoose

August 31st, 2010
3:01 pm

Here’s the scoop, for me…I am 100% Dutch and if you want to wear wooden shoes and dress up like a Dutchman/woman…go for it! NO problem on my end!

http://www.hvanrossum.com/costume.html

I guess I may have been the only one today thinking American Indian…sorry…

BTW…I loved watching Arti on Food Network!

motherjanegoose

August 31st, 2010
3:06 pm

@ OK and Theresa,

HHHMMMM …I, for one, might like “OK” more if he/she would stick with one name instead of dancing all around with names that reflect the person you are commenting about. I am really confused. I have a hard enough time remembering the real names of the bloggers I know in person VS their screen name. If everyone followed your lead, this would be a major headache for me…guess I could be the only one!

Unless you are the same person who was dancing around with different names and attacking others, for the past few blogs…maybe I won’t like you any way….LOL.

Becky

August 31st, 2010
3:10 pm

What do you find so offensive about the Indian Goddess Durga costume Theresa? I actually think that it’s cute..Like penguinmom said, it was the $948.00 stuffed tiger that got to me more than the outfit..Of course, I’m so old I remember that a big part of the fun for Halloween was making our costume, not buying one..

Becky

August 31st, 2010
3:13 pm

@MJG..To funny..I have Indian blood in me (Moms side) and idiot blood (Dad’s side), so feel free to dress as either one and you won’t hurt my feelings..

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

August 31st, 2010
3:16 pm

i don’t care and am not offende by what anyone wears as long as my wife slips on the Sexy Dorothy costume with red stilletos again this year. heck, we don’t even have to go trick or treating…just put the kid to bed and lock the master bedroom door and I’m in Halloween HEAVEN!!!

DB

August 31st, 2010
3:38 pm

If Arabs are insulted by the genie and Sultan costumes, they must have been have royal fits when “Aladdin” was a popular Disney movie!

I may be mistaken, but I always had the impression that the Indian gods and goddesses were worshipped slightly differently, more as a matter of homage than in forging a divine relationship with them. If that’s the case, then I can’t see anyone being offended by paying homage to a goddess by dressing up like her, but I guess you’d be better off asking an Indian — we WASPs are apparently fairly clueless as to this aspect of the culture!

As far as I know, there’s no taboo associated with depictions of the gods and goddesses, unlike Islam, who gets pretty annoyed over purported pictures of Mohammad.