PSA: Blackface, yellowface, sombreros, and other culturally appropriative getups aren’t the only offensive Halloween costumes out there — there are also plenty of other offensive ensembles that glorify racism, classism, and global tragedies. And when one company recently advertised a costume that seemingly trivialized the Holocaust, Twitter users were (rightfully) not having it.
According to screenshots captured and posted on Twitter before the costume was removed from the site, HalloweenCostumes.com recently offered an “Anne Frank Costume for Girls.” The child-size product, which included a simple navy blue dress with a “destination tag” attached to the collar, a green beret, and a brown shoulder bag, was also available from a handful of other costume retailers.
“We can always learn from the struggles of history!” the product description began in an uncomfortably cheery tone that doesn’t begin to acknowledge the fact that Anne Frank was among the more than six million European Jews who were systematically murdered during the Holocaust. “Unfortunately, World War II shook the world in a way that no one could have foreseen. It showed us what truth and mettle were. It also created some unexpected heroes, where even a young girl like Anne Frank with nothing but a diary and hope could become an inspiration to us all. We can all learn from someone like that!”
Obviously, many people took issue with the costume. “There r better ways 2 commemorate Anne Frank. This is not one. We should not trivialize her memory as a costume,” Carlos Galindo-Elvira, regional director for the Arizona branch of the Anti-Defamation League, tweeted on Sunday. “Totally speechless,” another appalled Twitter user wrote, tagging the U.S.-based Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect.
On Sunday, after one person tweeted directly at Ross Walker Smith, HalloweenCostumes.com’s PR specialist, Smith tweeted a statement in which he shared that the costume had since been removed from the site. “We sell costumes not only for Halloween, but for many uses outside of the Halloween season, such as school projects and plays. We offer several types of historically accurate costumes — from prominent figures to political figures, to television characters,” Smith wrote. “We take feedback from customers very seriously. We have passed along the feedback regarding this costume, and it has been removed from the website at this time. We apologize for any offense it has caused, as that’s never our intention.”
Unfortunately, the removal of the Anne Frank costume doesn’t mark an end to offensive Halloween costumes this year. “Border Babe” and “Border Wall” ensembles have also received backlash online, and, as Entertainment Weekly pointed out, HalloweenCostumes.com still offers a “Chinese Gentleman” costume, a simultaneously lewd and culturally offensive “Snake Charmer” getup, and a “Mexican Serape” costume that has already sold out. SMH.
Halloween costume ideas that AREN’T offensive:
Twisted, Creepy, Witchy Nails for Halloween: