I saw this Buzzfeed collection of 19 Deeply Horrifying Vintage Halloween Costumes at some link farm somewhere on the internets–my apologies to you if it was on your blog, as I can’t remember exactly where & therefore can’t credit you with it. It’s hard to choose my favorite, but I think mine is the one on the left. (I guess we know now what happened to Baby Jane.)
I was struck by the racist costumes and the degree to which many disguises in this collection of photos bear more than a passing resemblance to Ku Klux Klan masks and hoods. This is in part due to the fact that the Klan started dressing up in the ways that people would have fashioned costumes in the late nineteenth century, I’m sure–it’s not like they could go to the Five and Dime or Target to purchase ready-made costumes with plastic masks, so yards of muslin or burlap with eye-holes and topknots were in order.
It’s difficult to see these images and not think of the other uses that white Americans had for costumes.
Most surprisingly, Fratguy and I have been invited to a costume party next weekend. (I think we threw one of these 20 years ago. Doesn’t everyone throw one costume party and then get over the whole costume thing? As I recall, I dressed as Hester Prynne because all it took was a white blouse, a long black skirt, and a construction paper red letter A pinned to the front. I’m not big on complicated costumes.) We’re supposed to dress as our favorite cocktails. How would you interpret EmergenC and vodka as a costume? (Just kidding!) If I had a ruff and a brocade jacket I could go as (Bloody) Mary I. Maybe I’ll go in a 50s vintage dress with a mink wrap as a pink lady? Help!