"Inappropriate Costumes"

by M.Ostiguy on October 21, 2016 - 11:07pm

Marissa, Ostiguy

Anthropology 381-204-LA

The Myth of Race and the Reality of Racism

Group 545

October 21st, 2016

"Inappropriate Costumes"

In today’s society, the topic of racism is continuously discussed, whether it is at home or at school. We are taught what it is, how it works, and how it affects people.  For as long as I can remember, I have been learning about history; the history of the world,  of Canada, of its provinces, and of the societies that form them. Racism has always been present in my history classes, from elementary school to today, throughout the years I’ve been at school.

When I was approximately 8 or 9 years old, I recall learning about the multiple Indigenous communities that occupy the same land as me. I learned about their history, their culture, the struggles they faced, and the mistreatment they suffered through. Which is why I felt frustrated when I read “ ‘Inappropriate indigenous costumes’ at Outremont school raise ire of parent” , an article published by The Montreal Gazette. In this article, the mother of two students of that school was outraged by the fact that the teacher of the 3rd grade was wearing a colourful feathered headdress to represent the Indigenous communities. The mother was outraged because the headdress did not truly represent the Indigenous culture and it was a costume. Wearing that costume to represent those communities only emphasizes the stereotypical image people have of the Indigenous people, and only makes it harder for them to make that image disappear. [They] “constantly have to defend their own identities from being mocked, used as a trend and a form of entertainment”. Although the intention of the teacher was to “sensitize the students to the contributions of native communities”, it ended up being an act of racism.

The story described in the article reminded me of a specific class I had this year in Anthropology. That day, the class learned about the concept that Indigenous people are being wrongly represented through costumes. My teacher showed us [the students] the different types of “Indian” costumes that are being sold. She explained how those costumes were a representation of the stereotypes of the Indigenous people. Before that class, I believed that the only time it was [sort of] acceptable to dress as an Indigenous person was if I decided to dress like Pocahontas (a disney princess). But I still felt like it was wrong to represent a community based on a disney movie and not historical facts. So, after the class, when we learned how racism was such a big part of the Indigenous costumes, it made me realize how wrong it is to wear those types of costumes(based on stereotypes), and how it should not be supported. So, with that new understanding, I was able to see how disrespectful it was that the teacher in the article was to wear that headdress to represent the Indigenous communities. If anybody wants to dress like an Indigenous person, whether it is for school or for halloween, all they would need to do is wear clothes that represent and respect the true identity of the Indigenous people and their communities.

Word count : 508


List of Reference:

Riga, A. (2016, August 30). Inappropriate indigenous costumes at Outremont school raise ire of parent. The Montreal Gazette. Retrieved from:


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