In the past few years, Día de los Muertos – or Day of the Dead in English – costumes have been popping up at Halloween stores and parties. It’s understandable. People are drawn to the gorgeous imagery, where macabre meets magnificent.
The two-day holiday’s proximity to Halloween has led many to mislabel it as “Mexican Halloween,” a title that’s not only inaccurate, but culturally insensitive.
Amber Lena’s post, “Day of the Dead, Sugar Skulls, and the Question of Cultural Appropriation,” contrasts “spooky” Halloween with “bright, cheerful” Día de los Muertos and calls out Día de los Muertos imagery that is used for Halloween costumes as appropriation.
“All those ‘Pocahontas’ and Native American costumes you see each year? That’s cultural appropriation. But so are the ‘Mexican’ and ‘Sugar Skull’ costumes (and every other costume that seeks to mimic cultural or ethnic clothing),” Lena writes. “Painting your face like a sugar skull for Halloween? Definitely cultural appropriation.”
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