Fashion

Why this fashion brand’s new Halloween costume is so very problematic

Posted by
Susan Devaney
Published

Fashion Nova is selling a ‘sexy’ geisha costume for Halloween. 

We’ve officially entered October which means pumpkin spice lattes, warming buttery pies … and potentially inappropriate Halloween costumes.

The topic of culturally inappropriate costumes is not something new. In 2016, Chrissy Teigen addressed the issue on a wider scale within the fashion industry. And earlier this year, Little Mix singer Jesy Nelson was called out for her culturally inappropriate dreadlocks. And don’t even get us started on celebrities dressing up as Native Americas or this ‘sexy’ Handmaid’s Tale outfit

But, yet again, here we are. Enter: Fashion Nova’s ‘sexy’ geisha costume.

Priced at $49.99 (£38) the costume includes hair sticks, a kimono, a skirt, and an obi (a traditional sash worn with a kimono). 

In the most simplest of terms, cultural appropriation is defined as the unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices or ideas of a culture. Often by members of another and typically more dominant culture.

The issue here is that in Japan, geisha culture is one of tradition and respect. Identifiable by their white faces, bright red lips and elaborate hairstyles, geishas are treated like celebrities in their own country. Unfortunately, in the west geishas (a performing artist) have long been misunderstood as high class prostitutes – but that’s not the case. Geishas perform publicly and at large events (attended by men and women).

In previous weeks, people have taken to Twitter to remind people to pick appropriate costumes – including avoiding dressing as a geisha. 

In short: geishas are part of Japanese culture and history – not a fancy dress outfit.

And, unfortunately, they’re not the only brand creating such inappropriate designs.

Stylist.co.uk has reached out to Fashion Nova for comment. We will update this article accordingly.

Images: Unsplash / Twitter

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Susan Devaney

Susan Devaney is a digital journalist for Stylist.co.uk, writing about fashion, beauty, travel, feminism, and everything else in-between.

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