Ethnic Costumes Affecting Perception of The Self


I found this picture posted on the bathroom’s door in my dorm hall and it brought me back to our class discussion of ethnicity as a costume. This picture’s aim is to prevent people from making ignorant decisions while thinking about or shopping for a Halloween costume. Selecting particular ethnicities as costumes can definitely affect the way in which people within a specific ethnic group may feel about themselves. The labeling theory which focuses on how individuals view themselves in relation to society’s perception of them, can apply to the way in which say, a Middle Eastern person may feel about himself in relation to a costume that characterizes him or her as a terrorist. By grouping all people of Middle Eastern descent as criminals, something completely based on ignorance and lack of sensitivity about a specific ethnicity, severely affects people within this culture or ethnic group. This little boy’s identity has been erroneously constructed by society’s response to negative events directly associated with the region he ethnically represents. Choosing Arab costumes that depict a group of people as “terrorist” serves as a constantly reminder that particular Middle Eastern regions are replete with people that have the potential of being deviant criminals.         
               Ethnicity inspired Halloween costumes affect the “Me”, a concept created by sociologist George Herbert Mead. This idea can be referred as situated and responsive, in other words people perform in relation to how they want to be perceived even if that means they need to alter their habitual self. For example, if a person sees his culture and customs being ridiculed by a Halloween costume, he or she may try to disassociate themselves from the stereotypical characteristics of his or her own culture. Just like people’s “Me” speak for them in every Facebook picture they post on their profile to impress their friends, minorities may repress their pride for their culture to try to fit in or even change their appearance because they do not want to be associated with their culture due to all socially constructed  stereotypes. Minorities may not wear Saris or Mexican sombreros because they may not want their culture to be the only representative aspect that defines their identity. If their culture is used as a Halloween costume, why would they ever want to wear items that enhance the stereotypical attitude towards their culture?

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Stickers And Labels

This sticker vending machine is an interesting study in identity. It gives you many options, the Disney princesses, the Marvel superheroes, the South Park kids. Among all the Hannah Montana glamour shots, a child choosing which stickers he or she wants is choosing an idol and a brand. This becomes part of the dramaturgy as a child chooses to be either a princess or a superhero and acts out the archetype.

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