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From the 2012 STARS campaign, led by students at Ohio University

Recently, Gadling posted a list of Halloween Costumes for Travel Lovers which I’m sure is mainly tongue-in-cheek but I found to actually be a bit judgmental.  Halloween played a very big trick on us this year with Hurricane Sandy. But that doesn’t mean your Halloween has to be a natural disaster!

When I first saw the article, I thought “Oh, this will be a cool list of common items travelers have that can be used to make creative costumes on the road!” After all, I’d pulled the same MacGyver tactics to create a last-minute Batman costume while celebrating Halloween in Prague.  Instead, what I read was basically a list of travel stereotypes, and how you cam emulate their “looks” to enhance the idea of this stereotype for yourself.

Let’s start off with the Trustafarian Backpacker.  I don’t think it’s wrong for wealthy people to travel.  They may not travel in the same way you do, but their presence in the travelsphere is not to be scoffed at.  Wealthy travelers keep many developing parts of the world in business – many of the Caribbean islands, for example, rely solely on tourism to keep a steady economy.  I  know a lot of wealthy people who act like hippies because they didn’t agree with the lifestyle they grew up with and are trying to change themselves; traveling offers them a chance to explore places away from their upbringing and make their own life decisions.  I also know a lot of poor travelers who are just as culturally insensitive as what is implied by the Gadling article.  Basically, let hippies, wanna-be hippies, and non-hippies do what they want and mind your own business.

Harajuku girl: I’m not really sure what this is supposed to be.  Harajuku isn’t really a person, it references a place (Harajuku is the area around Harajuku station in Tokyo, Japan), a sub-culture (Japanese teens congregate socially in this area on Sundays) and a style (Harajuku punk mixes a lot of genres and is one of many fashions paraded around Tokyo’s Harajuku area).  Harajuku fashion is not merely limited to exaggerated punk styles as well – Cosplay, Lolita, Kei and Decora sub-cultures are also present.  Not only that, but to dress in any of the aforementioned styles as a Halloween costume is actually offensive to many of these sub-cultures.  They don’t view their clothing as charactery or costumey.  Would you dress as an Amish person and celebrate Halloween in Lancaster, PA? Probably not.

Euro Trash Guy: Again, let’s not make fun of the man for his sense of style.  Just because you don’t dress in pointy shoes, “douchey” scarves (what determines a douchey scarf from a non-douchey scarf?) and shirts with high-thread counts (those sound heavenly, actually) doesn’t mean Euro Trash Dude wants to wear your second-hand shirt from Goodwill and cargo pants from Old Navy.  Offering Ecstasy tabs to strangers?  That sucks.  Holidaying in Ibiza?  How does that even factor into this equation?  If you don’t like the way this guy looks, don’t hang out with him!  Also, half of Europe dresses like this on a daily basis and I’m sure they wouldn’t like to be referred to as “trash” just like Americans don’t like being referred to as “obese.”

Moral of the story folks, is that Halloween is meant to be a fun day where people dress up in crazy outfits in search of sweet treats – it shouldn’t be an opportunity to visually bash people’s appearances or attitudes using Halloween as an excuse.  Some people go as far as to remind people not to stereotype on deeper cultural levels, such as the STARS campaign started by students at Ohio University.  Most Halloween costumes are innocently created, but if you think your idea might bother someone, maybe stick to one of those cheesy store-bought outfits instead.

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