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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Dressing up: Is your little Moana a racist?

Dressing up as Moana is racist for anyone who isn’t a Polynesian girl, declares Redbook and Cosmopolitan.

“Moana is a powerful, phenomenal Disney heroine,” the story concedes. But dressing up as the brave explorer is learning “to mock other people’s cultures.”

Sachi Feris’ five-year-old daughter asked to dress up as Elsa from Frozen this year and Moana next Halloween, she writes on Racing Race Conscious Children. (Do we want to raise race-conscious children?)

Worried about cultural appropriation and “about Whiteness and standards of beauty, she tried to sell her part-Argentinian daughter on being a tango dancer — or Che Guevara. That didn’t fly. She couldn’t talk her into being a brown-haired Elsa: She will get a blonde braid.

However, Moana is out for 2018. Her daughter agreed to be Mickey Mouse.

Ignore the “mixed-up logic” of cultural appropriation, writes Robby Soave on Reason‘s Hit & Run.

Moana isn’t a “generic Polynesian stereotype,” he writes. She’s a specific fictional character.

The culture isn’t the costume, the character is. And it seems to me a good way to encourage respect for the culture is to let the kid dress up as the character. When we can imagine ourselves as other people, we gain empathy for them. On the other hand, saying no to a child who wants to be Moana could sabotage the cause of greater racial inclusion and sensitivity. Why can’t I be Moana? What’s so different about Polynesian people? They’re really so fundamentally different from me that I can’t pretend to be one of their heroes? How is this a productive or encouraging line of thinking for a child to entertain?

Would the editors of Cosmopolitan and Redbook try to stop a little black girl from dressing up as Moana? asks Soave. Is it be OK for a boy to appropriate girl culture by dressing as Elsa or Moana?

As for dressing as Che Guevara, he was a “brutal murderer who executed hundreds of political prisoners, gay people, religious dissidents, and anyone else who threatened Cuba’s totalitarian regime.”

Emily Zanotti asked her husband, a Pacific Islander, if he’d be offended by girls dressing up as Moana to trick or treat.

His response…”uhhh, no.” As for whether he felt more oppressed now, as a result of Disney’s cultural appropriation? “Why are you still reading that garbage magazine?”

The costume rules are impossible to follow, writes Zanotti. “Dressing as Cinderella is sexist,” while Jasmine is racist. “Heck, you probably can’t even dress as one of Moana’s animal sidekicks, lest you anger PETA over the obvious cartoon oppression of what is clearly a very differently-abled chicken.”

This  Blitz evacuee costume was marketed as an “Anne Frank” costume.

Business Insider displays “racist, misogynistic, or downright insensitive” halloween costumes for adults, including Arab sheik, geisha, Rasta, convict, snake charmer, inflatable ballerina and hobo. Even a gorilla costume becomes not OK if dubbed “Harambe.”

A costume originally sold as “World War II evacuee” was marketed as an “Anne Frank”costume  until people complained about trivializing the Holocaust.

Scott Adams shows how to turn a “pussy hat” and a pantsuit into a Little Rocket Man costume.

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