This week, certain types of Halloween costumes were withdrawn from sale at two British Supermarkets.
So what other choices are there?
There are already an abundance of costumes that won’t be taken off the shelves that depict disabled people as ‘freaks’ or worthy of the ability to scare people this Halloween.
For £3.98 you can get your child a Quasimodo face patch for an instant facial disfigurement. Teaching your child that people with disfigurements are freaks and scary monsters will be a valuable lesson? Deforming our bodies is an instant way to boost the scare factor – and film makers rely on maintaining this fear.
By the way – have you noticed that most villains in movies are, more often than not, depicted with an impairment of some sort… so you might want to choose something like a Pirate with a hook on his amputated limb or a wooden leg?
Would the pirate be so brave or even scary without a hook prosthesis? The next time you watch Peter Pan …. look at how the hook and shadow of the hook generate fear and negative emotions along with the sinister music.
Some amputees have had (or still have) hook type limb attachments …. maybe children think they are all pirates? Well either that or some sort of Paralympian perhaps?
Another classic option is the Witch. Usually haggard or deformed and in cahoots with the Devil. In the 14th century, babies born with deformities were drowned because deformity linked them to the devil. Disabled children were branded witches according to the book Malleus Maleficarum (Witchcraft catalogue from that century). The famous Protestant Reformer, Martin Luther (1485-1546) saw the Devil in disabled children and recommended killing them.
We no longer associate witches with being devilish disabled people in disguise – so maybe that makes this costume the less stigmatising option? The least likely to cause harm by perpetuating negative, stereotypes? Then again I don’t think this accurately reflects modern Wiccans, Witches and Pagans neither.
Here are some other disabled people depicted as sinister or evil (who might turn up to a Halloween party).
- Disabled characters ‘Black Dog’ and ‘Blind Pew’ from Treasure Island. (They lacked fingers, eyes and were hunched)
- Long John Silver – another amputee who, as his evil character becomes more apparent, so increased the deliberate references to his wooden leg.
- Dy Jekyll and Mr Hyde (turns into a ‘bad’ personality drawing on being hunched, ugly and mad’)
- Pick a James Bond Villain (an array of disabled people – all sinister). Something for everyone here.
- The evil person in Twin Peaks – was a dwarf.
- Frankenstein – the film adaptation utilised ‘Fritz’ who was a hunchback to assist the Baron. He was responsible for finishing the monster by adding the brain (which he drops as hunchbacks are clumsy idiots, no?) and urging it on a rampage of murder.
Don’t be left out.
Are you feeling that Halloween just won’t be the same now you can’t dress your children up as a mental patient (because obviously all people with mental ill-health are freaky, scary, axe wielding murderers NOT)? Sad you can’t go to Tesco and buy the Psycho Ward costume…. then fear not.
I always like to help out on issues around disability.
Here are some ideas to really get those creativity juices flowing … and just like the above, they might be equally effective at increasing the stigma, stereotyping and harrassment of disabled people this Halloween season….. so don’t be afraid, be really insensitive (stupid) and give them a go!