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How did Halloween transform from a sacred religious day of worship and remembrance to the current consumerist sexist racist event that mainstreams cultural appropriation? Ok, thinking caps on… how did we go from this to this? This is of course an extremely hard question to answer, but it is one that social psychology is well equipped to address. What shall we pick on first…..



What happened to the idea that money can’t buy happiness? What happened to homemade costumes and re-runs of the Twilight Zone (NOT Twilight!) and watching The Nightmare Before Christmas? Which by the way is to be watched at Halloween AND Christmas.

BUT wait we have to be fair and appreciate that spending on Halloween in the US is forecasted to decrease this year… great right? I mean come on, what people are said to spend this year isn’t that bad!!! Its just a measly 6.9 BILLION DOLLARS!!!! What else could we possibly do with that kind of tiny budget? Spare change? Not like we could stop the famine in Somalia or anything….

Ok, ok, but Egypt isn’t as bad right??? In our current climate of economic crises, poverty, and conflict…. RIGHT???? Of course the numbers are not calculated so meticulously as in the US, but because most of the costumes, candy, decorations and other items are imported, we are most likely spending MORE on Halloween than the average person in the US. OK, even if so, less people are celebrating it in Egypt than in the US… very true. BUT STILL, all of the “hotspots” are having celebrations, and tickets range from 50 LE to 700LE and more. PER PERSON. Minus other expenses and decorations etc.

GENDER halloween-costumes


Apparently I am not the only one in AUC focusing on this issue. Take a look at this article written in AUC news. Do not get me wrong, to each his/her own if they want a “sexy” costume, but its actually about the double standards in whats available for women and girls that makes me mad. Calling people “sluts” because they have revealing Halloween costumes is as sexist as those who push the “sexy” costumes on us. In terms of gender, the whole point is choice. Actual choice, with informed consent, and without the kind of social influence that reinforces gender inequality. Also, sexualizing children, always a NO NO.

Take a look at this slideshow, oh me oh my. Here is a taste of the kinds of costumes you will see…. :/

SEXIST 1aacff640-23a1-0131-54ea-0a905abe3172


“Halloween is like Christmas for racists, because it’s an easy way to cloak bigotry in the guise of fun.” Take a look at these photos and tweets, I feel sick again. And yes, racism is an issue VERY close to home for our side of the world. Take a look at this costume that is sold widely.


I think the photos speak for themselves…?

In terms of attitude change, there has been a backlash against Halloween this year. This backlash led to this campaign: “We are a culture, not a costume. You wear the costume for ONE NIGHT, I wear the stigma FOR LIFE.” “This s not who I am and this is NOT OKAY.” If you take a look at the campaign, it addresses multiple stereotypes, even “positive” ones, attempting to make us think about the CONSEQUENCES of our actions. The campaign focuses on race although the slogan could apply to so much more. Take a look:


Here are some clues about how not to be one of these people in Buzzfeeds article “17 People Who Need To Be Banned From Celebrating Halloween”. #1, 7, 8, 10, 11, 15, and 16 are the most unsettling for me, other than the photo I talked about in my last blog which is #9.


The Deluded Person’s Etiquette Guide To Avoiding Halloween Racism, Sexism, And General Tastelessness

Also, I would say, most importantly, know what the hell the holiday is all about. Isn’t this step number one? What is this about? Before conforming blindly? History lessons are funner than you think, and begin your journey with this.

So read this, think about it, mull it over, and then comment.

AND because I hate to solely Debbie Downer you, here are some things to lift your spirits.

1. Watermelon and gender role reversals.


2. Ellen dressed as Nicki Minaj!!!!!!!!

3. AAAAAAAAAND, drumroll, a photo of me as a child on Halloween. YES im a NOT-sexy Tinkerbell, and YES I am wearing a cowboy hat 🙂

2013-11-03 21.29.47-1

PS include in your comment what you were for Halloween 🙂


14 responses to “More Halloween fun :)

  1. sabrinek

    I loved the campaign slogan “We are a culture, not a costume. You wear the costume for ONE NIGHT, I wear the stigma FOR LIFE.” I think it sends a powerful message, we all love halloween and we love dressing up but it’s true that this year for example there were many people who portrayed a character towards who they feel hatred and by doing so it a way to mock them but that isn’t fair. Moreover, I totally agree that for some reason any girl who decides to wear something sexy for halloween is usually called a “slut” but like you said that is not true halloween is about going crazy being someone you are not laughing having a good time and celebrating and to those who want to criticize the girls that wear sexy stuff for halloween i don’t think it’s any of their business it’s their lives and their choices. In addition, almost 7 billion dollars spent on halloween that is astonishing I’d never have considered this number ! I personally didn’t get to celebrate halloween this year because I had a wedding on that day , weird I know !

  2. Aya Attwa ⋅

    Sabrine! I had a wedding that day too so didn’t celebrate as well 🙂 hahaha… And I agree that this huge sum of money spent each year on Halloween is ridiculous, could definitely be spent somewhere else. And of course, the gender stereotypes we face everywhere and we see again in halloween. Why can’t people chose for themselves what they want to be?! Finally, stop with the offensive costumes already!! It’s just sick.

  3. I didn’t think about halloween in that way before. But some of the things people are wearing are just sick. The costumes with Zimmerman and the dead boy, and the Boston bombing costumes are ridiculous. I can’t believe that some people think that’s funny. Aside from that some costumes are really racist, but this is just rude and inappropriate.

  4. I also had a wedding on Halloween so I didn’t dress up this year. Actually I was relived I didn’t have to think of a costume to wear. I hate how much effort people put into those things. For me I would only give effort to things that I personally care about but honestly I’m not a big fan of Halloween. I believe that only those who really care about the event itself should celebrate it. I’m against all the costs spent on preparing for that day which could be used somewhere more important. Although I haven’t celebrated this year I saw some pictures of my own friends and I was actually so annoyed they all had super girls sexy costumes or sexy nurses or even a couple were Beduins. I honestly didn’t find any of them funny. They were ridiculous. None of them even understood what Halloween meant and none of them dressed suitable for the Halloween theme. I don’t know why they make effort to celebrate Halloween when they don’t know much about this holiday. They could just make a random costume party any timing of the year

  5. Well i don’t really celebrate halloween but this year my friends kept pressuring me to go with them to this house party at a friends house and i ended up going after all i wasn’t really wearing a costume but i tried to look as scary as much as possible but i think i failed. As soon as i go to the party i was in shock omggg!! the effort i saw in peoples costume and how many costumes was about making fun of other famous people was ridiculous, it was so racist and annoying. it is really weird that halloween is turning into this consumerist racist sexist holiday. when i was a little girls halloween was so different to me than it is now thats why i don’t enjoy it anymore, because people just annoy me on that day!

  6. Noha Ezz El-Din Fikry ⋅

    I am shocked at how a historical and religious event is being commercialized and used mercilessly to convey certain messages and enhance gender roles. Seemingly, every single chance is being used to enhance those gender roles. Anyway, this event shouldn’t be celebrated that way and it has nothing to do with what the event is about. The fact that people are conforming again is really mind-blowing. I totally hate those outfits; they are ALL supporting gender roles and exactly, even when you are celebrating; women have to look sexy and men have to look powerful! You have to abide by those laws in every situation and in every occasion.

    I really LOVED your Halloween picture; the cowboy hat is AWESOME!

    What I am thinking about now is if women are socialized to wear certain outfits on all occasions, wouldn’t that eventually lead to their internally justifying it and going through all the self-persuasion process? In this case, even if a girl didn’t really like wearing those outfits but wore them because she was scared of social disapproval or whatever, she might end up convincing herself that it is good wearing those outfits and that this is actually how she should look after all. That would really be disastrous!

    The good thing about Halloween outfits is how they portray different cultures and different historical eras and the bad thing is how they terribly portray them! Again, the Zimmerman outfit, the terrorists/ Arabs outfit, and the ASTRONAUT! Really, they ruined all the fun by this outfit; it is totally horrible and doesn’t even make sense…. Seriously, is that what you will wear there!?!! I loved the watermelon switching thing; it is hilarious! Finally, I really can’t find a suitable comment on the Anna Rexia costume -_- I am soooo horrified!

  7. marabm712

    First of all, reading the article on Halloween spending (consumerism), I was shocked by the numbers! How much people are made to buy things that they actually don’t really need that much to celebrate a holiday that originally speaking had nothing to do with all those things =D!!! Interesting, and somewhat sad… As you said Dr. Mariham, It’s “not like we could stop the famine in Somalia or anything….” through the 6.9 billion dollars the US spent on Halloween this year!
    The homemade costumes of kids from the past were so cute =)! I felt they are very original!
    Seeing how the costumes were sexist and racist made me feel sick… Why all this? Creativity?! I don’t think so!!
    I so much liked the campaign of the University of Colorado =)! I hope it will make a difference…

    Last but not least, your picture when you were a child on Halloween is just soooo cuteee =))!!! I mean it =))!!!

  8. Personally, i don’t participate in Halloween. frankly i don’t understand its purpose as much as having fun and wearing crazy stuff, which is not bad. i came across couple of outfits that was really enjoyable.
    if there is any fans for Breaking Bad: check this link, it is pretty cool:
    i like it when people wear outfits of their favourite TV characters, rather than stereotyping or racism. for example, women wearing sexy stuff as the doctor mentioned in this post.

  9. It’s really interesting to find out how Halloween really started and what it really meant, I never thought of it honestly because I never noticed Halloween.
    This year is the only year that I would actually notice Halloween, I was surprised to find out that the theme of the month of my daughter’s day care was Halloween; (they made witch hates, spiders, pumpkins…). I’m really confused why should two years old be exposed to witches? Why should she have the word witch among her limited vocabulary? And I really don’t see the point of all the candy!
    When we were shopping for her costume I was shocked to find the store fully crowded, I thought my daughter’s day care was one of the very few schools that celebrated Halloween, but apparently it’s now a yearly ritual that most schools have to celebrate.
    Seriously I’m really shocked was it always that way or this year it’s a bit exaggerated!

  10. You should’ve seen my face while reading every single article O_o more of a “yalahwi” face haha. What the hell is this! Halloween is ruined!! Reading the numbers spent on Halloween every year is ridiculous! And your sarcasm about it is hilarious! So true, 6.9 billion won’t help with hunger at all. Especially in Egypt when the elite spend soo much on ordering costumes and the entrance tickets to parties + their drinks. It’s insane! Oh and “naughty leopard” for TODDLERS??? Seriously!! This makes me sick!! No wonder they will grow up, thinking that Halloween is all about ring sexy and cleavage. It’s disgusting! And yes people should have the choice to wear what they want, but I think they have just been pushed Into that “sexy” zone. And this is why I don’t celebrate Halloween here in Egypt, because it’s celebration came at an older age for everyone, so I think people misunderstand the concept of the actual scary Halloween and only look for the “sexiest” costumes. I did celebrate in holland when I was little. Will try to bring a picture to class 🙂

  11. ftyebjee

    Well to start with, the picture of you is ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE!! 🙂

    Growing up in the states i have been well exposed to halloween since i was in day care?? It is a big thing and unfortunately the holiday has turned into something totally different. For kids it is dressing up as princesses (i am totally guilty of dressing up princesses when i was younger…) and boys what they want to be when they are older. As you get older it’s how slutty of a costume you can think of for girls and i don’t even know what the guys work towards showing anymore.

    Halloween parties back home and especially in college are basically big shit shows. It is all about showing the skin and getting drunk and what not.

    It is so sad to think people use this holiday to make fun of certain races and/or cultures. Like the Trayvon Martin costume and the Arab costume and so on. I personally am not a big fan of this holiday except for of course all the candy that goes on sale afterwards :). One thing i miss about being home, so guilty of going to the stores the day after halloween to stock up!!! =/

    On a more happy note the article or the pictures of the little kids from back in the day, soooo cute. I wish it was still like that. My sister loves halloween, one because she gets unlimited candy and two because she gets to dress up, i just hope in the future she continues to enjoy the holiday for the right reasons!

  12. sarazaky

    I’m actually a halloween fan, i used to go trick or treating when i was younger and as i got older i noticed how halloween was starting to become a holiday that is celebrated among some egyptians. Now we have halloween parties and people who dress up in all forms and all costumes you can think of. They think it is funny to dress up as zimmerman an trayvon or as morsi here which is really not.
    The gender stereotypes are highlighted in the halloween costumes, especially the ones you buy. (Like the banana costume). I like to make my own costumes and exert effort in the detail 😊. I was once cruella de vil, wilma flinstone and buttercup from powerpuff girls 🙂

  13. It actually sad and funny to see how men wear fully covered outfits and women wear uncovered outfits that are representing the same character in the end. People should be able to make their own decisions and not be forced to wear a specific type of outfit.

  14. OH DEAR! Wait there is more. I just found this on Buzzfeed…. ATROCIOUS! I can not even say WHICH one is the worst. They are all horrid!

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