OPINION: I know good costumes. Here’s how not to make a bad costume.

A Denver cosplayer has your Halloween costume tips: First of all, ask yourself, “Is this costume racist?”

What I’ve Learned

Denverite invites thoughtful people to submit op-eds about Denver. This is a series we call What I’ve Learned.

Kristen DeAnn as Cubone. (Courtey Kristin DeAnn)
Kristen DeAnn as Cubone. (Courtey Kristin DeAnn)

By Kristin DeAnn, Special to Denverite

One of the best things about Halloween is being able to dress up no matter your age, sex, race or religion (I am talking to you, you rebel!).

I am a self-taught cosplayer. I have been making costumes for the past four years and have probably made about 20+ costumes for myself and others. I attend conventions, and I am very active on costuming groups. I speak with other costumers around the world about their skills, creations, and cosplay morals.

And while Halloween is a fun, costume-filled holiday, it can also be a platform for people to dress up in offensive costumes out of ignorance or sometimes looking for a laugh. In order to avoid offending someone — and looking like a jerk — this Halloween, follow these simple steps.

First of all, ask yourself, “Is this costume racist?”

If you are hesitant to answer, then put the costume away and continue browsing for more possible choices. What makes a costume racist, exactly? If you are needing to change your skin tone or modify your facial features in a way that represents another race or ethnicity, such as enlarging your lips or taping your eyelids, or even if your costume is representing a white supremacist, say, then this is not the costume to wear.

Secondly, does this costume mock those with disabilities?

It’s okay to represent your body as rotten to the core — dressing up as a zombie or a vampire — or to render your health in a finer light.

But dressing up as a cancer patient, amputee, dwarf, or depicting someone with mental or physical illness? Not an appropriate costume. Stay away from cliché costumes portraying anorexia, suicide, obesity,and bipolar disorder as their main selling point.

Thirdly, is your costume culturally or historically appropriate?

Cultures aren’t costumes. Skip the Native American, Eskimo, Arab, geisha, etc., costumes.

These are outfits that have meaning in their history, and/or culture. One of the most popular Halloween costumes is the “sugar skull.” The sugar skull represents a Mexican holiday, the Day of the Dead. This holiday celebrates the beauty in the passing of their loved ones and ancestors. It is not a Mexican Halloween, nor should it be treated like Halloween in other countries.

And let’s take the time to pray away the offensive religious costumes.

Dressing up like a sexy nun may seem to be a funny idea, but others can find it very offensive. Another example would be dressing like a suicide bomber. Don’t do that. Other examples would include dressing like any religion’s god. Though their depictions may be interesting to the eye, they are not an appropriate costume selection. It does not matter how religious you are or if you are agnostic and have no religious views or preference, be sure to be considerate of those who do.

There are plenty of characters you can be for Halloween and still have the night of your life! Become a Disney princess, a superhero or a knight in shining armor. Or reach into the depths of your creative mind and make something new and amazing. You have the imagination and the abilities to rock your next Halloween party while being respectful to others.

Kristin DeAnn. (Courtesy Kristin DeAnn)
Kristin DeAnn. (Courtesy Kristin DeAnn)

Kristin DeAnn, aka Kristin Killtastic, is a cosplayer who just wants your costume to be good. And not bad.

Denverite invites thoughtful people to submit op-eds about Denver. This series is called What I’ve Learned. Previously: Opinion: Lessons learned from opening a cat cafe (and my top four cat videos) and Opinion: I may have overestimated the glamorous life of an Uber driver. We’ve also got a One Big, Crazy Denver Idea series. Pitch your op-ed to us at tips@denverite.com.