Moana Costume Sparks Debate Over Cultural Appropriation

Moana Costume Sparks Debate Over Cultural Appropriation  Promo Image

Debate raged across social media after a blog post claimed that a Halloween costume of the Disney character Moana being worn by those not of Polynesian descent is culturally inappropriate.

Disney pulled its Moana costume from shelves before Halloween due to complaints from people across the country that the costume was an example of cultural appropriation. Blogger Sachi Feris debated allowing her daughter to dress up as the popular Disney princess and wrote about it on her blog.

"I don’t like the idea of dressing up using the same traditional clothing that someone from Moana’s culture may have worn because that feels like we are laughing at her culture by making it a costume," she told her daughter.

"A child whose family is Polynesian could dress up using that type of traditional clothing but Moana’s culture is not our culture. If you want you could dress up as someone from one of your cultures, you could be a tango dancer from Argentina…(or as Che Guevara!). Otherwise, maybe you could be a modern-day Moana and dress up in the clothing you think Moana might wear today."

Dr. Trisha Bruce, associate sociology professor with Maryville College, told WATE that the key to getting people to understand cultural appropriation was changing the conversation and the language.

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"If we can think instead of the word 'political correctness,' and camaraderie, and respect, maybe that builds a different conversation and makes us think about our choices a little bit differently," she said.

Despite many arguing that white children dressing as Moana is inappropriate, others felt that the issue was overblown.

"I think it’s silly to take children’s Halloween costumes so seriously. They’re kids, can’t they just be kids and not involved with the whole political correctness thing?" one mother told the New York Post. "Parents need to chill out a little bit."

Others, however, felt that the controversy surrounding the costume was warranted.

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"I definitely wouldn’t want anyone to be offended by any costume, whether it be a Native American or a police officer," grandmother Freda Johnson told WATE.

"I admire your perseverance in interacting with your daughter. I realize talking about race and culture is an ongoing deeply important conversation. You also have given her essential values along with guidelines so she has the opportunity to grow, be creative, learn and find her way in the world with many ways to celebrate and play with her own race. Thanks for the great blog," one of Feris' readers commented on her blog post.

Sources: Raising Race ConsciousWATE, New York Post / Featured Image: Xavier Navarro/Grand Forks Air Force Base / Embedded Images: BagoGames/Flickr, New York Post

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