Every year, pop culture and national news tend to influence people’s choices when it comes to Halloween costumes. Whether it be a tribute to a celebrity they idolize or as a way to poke fun at the omnipresent worship of fame, celebrity-inspired costumes have their place in the Halloween industry. A prime example is immediately after MIley twerked on stage at the MTV awards, people couldn’t recreate her infamous bear swimsuit outfit complete with a giant foam finger and hair buns fast enough. Even celebrities like Paris Hilton donned a Miley outfit for Halloween. Earlier this year, when Kim Kardashian “broke the internet” with a risqué photo of her mostly nude aiming a stream of champagne into a glass which rest on her famous derriere, people all over the internet began recreating the photo for laughs. This leads me to one of the Halloween industry’s most controversial costume for 2015 – Caitlyn Jenner. There’s no denying the huge cultural impact her Vanity Fair cover had. On one side of the spectrum, people praised her as a champion for the transgender community. Others had some pretty hurtful things to say.
The reason I bring this up is because recently, articles began surfacing about consumer backlash towards the Caitlyn Jenner costume. The costume, which was modeled by an assumingly cisgender male, has been deemed “transphobic” and “offensive” throughout social media and the blogosphere. For a community that has not had it easy in terms of social acceptance, it’s easy to see how this costume is a slam on the community as a whole.
On the other hand, there are those who see the costume as nothing but a silly joke – a commentary on its impact on pop culture rather than a means of ridiculing the transgender community. For people obsessed with celebrities and pop culture, they’re always looking for the biggest news story to parody come Halloween. In that regard, Caitlyn Jenner is not exempt from public fascination, and in some instances, ridicule when it comes to blasting pop culture. However, to a group that has a history of being marginalized, this costume is easily seen as a type of microaggression that perpetuates hate and fear towards an already in-danger community.
As a result, Halloween costume retailers this year had the tough choice of whether to carry this costume. Some of the larger companies had it up for sale and quickly removed the item after the social media shaming. Others kept the costume and plan to push forward with selling it to willing customers for the year. Weighing the consumer demand based on trends versus the moral implication of such a sensitive topic, other companies including Pure Costumes have decided not to carry the Caitlyn Jenner costume. Though the debate may rage on and on regarding this topic and the widening divide between “humor” and “political correctness” there is no clear winner in regards to right or wrong. However, the light of this topic is that these controversial costumes are raising public awareness regarding significant social issues in the world.