Halloween is the time of year when everyone breaks out their skimpy, scary and tacky costumes and parade around, pretending to be someone else for one, fun night. While many costumes sold in stores like Spirit Halloween are fun and campy, Halloween costumes often lend themselves to perpetuating offensive stereotypes of minority communities.
This month, a picture of an overtly masculine model with stubble and hairy legs advertised a Caitlyn Jenner Vanity Fair costume that outraged people trans people and trans supporters. Dressing up as any trans person and applying masculine or feminine attributes that weren’t originally there is a transphobic act.
Jenner is a major celebrity, and dressing up as her is fair game if the outfit is worn by someone who genuinely wants to look like Jenner. But, if the costume owner accessorizes it with a beard, hairy legs and a crotch bulge, then the costume takes a violently unpleasant turn.
There is still the potential for good with the costume though. Spirit Halloween is currently advertising their “Caitlyn Corset & Wig Set” with a feminine model. The model is wearing the appropriate makeup and there are no hairy legs in sight. If you’re going to dress up as Jenner, that is how it should be done. The model actually looks like Caitlyn and is paying tribute to her, not mocking her.
Anyone can wear a twerking Miley Cyrus costume or a throwback Lucille Ball costume, and the same should hold true for an icon like Jenner. A Jenner costume is just an imitation of a famous, female celebrity from an groundbreaking magazine cover. It’s when the costume owner uses masculine attributes to mock Jenner’s transition that there’s a problem.
Jenner herself thinks the costume is great. “I’m in on the joke. No, I don’t think it’s offensive at all,” Jenner told the Today Show. And while Jenner is not a spokesperson for the entire trans community, I think she understands that she’s a huge public figure that is going to be made into pop culture staples, like Halloween costumes.
People should be allowed to call themselves Caitlyn on Halloween all they want, but it’s up to the general public to not turn the costume into something offensive. The costume should be shifted from something that could be potentially extremely offensive and made into an outfit celebrating an important public figure for the transgender community.