Burqas against Beck
October 29, 2010 10:01 AM   Subscribe

Halloween Filter: Can I wear my hijab for a costume? (As a statement that HEY MUSLIMS AREN'T SCARY?) Special politically-correct snowflake details inside.

Our original plan was for me to be the scariest thing of 2010: a BEDBUG and for the BF to be a mattress. We were also planning to wear these at the Rally with signs. ("Bedbugs afraid of Glenn Beck" and "Fear Bedbugs Not Progress.")

Well, the mattress costume isn't happening due to procrastination time constraints. But I have a gorgeous hijab from my Iraq days. The BF could be the bedbug and I could wear my hijab with a large sign (front and back) saying "Fear bedbugs not other religions." or something.

Don't want to offend any Muslims. I think most people will get that the costume mocks irrational fear, but I'd like the opinion of the hive. Thanks!
posted by cyndigo to Human Relations (38 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
No, this is a bad idea and I don't really get it.
posted by anniecat at 10:03 AM on October 29, 2010 [8 favorites]

Mmmm. I'm not sure that I would make the connection, though I get it with your explanation.

Frankly, the scariest thing that the political extremes could view on the cable news coverage of this thing are an average white older couple from Ohio who look like my retired parents wearing signs that say, "I'm for Restoring Sanity and I used to be a Republican."
posted by jeanmari at 10:06 AM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

Seconding the really bad idea, and probably wind up pissing people off.
If you're going with bedbug idea, get a hardhat, goggles, flannel shirt, and a plant sprayer and go as an exterminator. Leave the political statements out of the holiday.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 10:06 AM on October 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

I don't think it's offensive, but I don't get it, either.

posted by reductiondesign at 10:07 AM on October 29, 2010

I'm all for awareness, but this stinks of politicization of what is supposed to be an all-inclusive holiday. What's worse, is that you're going to be pissing off both sides. It would be like dressing up as "a Jew" in the late-30s/early-40s to show people that they're okay people.
posted by griphus at 10:09 AM on October 29, 2010 [9 favorites]

I get it, but only after reading the 9 sentences you wrote. All other issues aside, don't be that person whose costume is really lazy and requires a long explanation.
posted by ripley_ at 10:11 AM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

this sounds like a bad idea and you will end up having to explain yourself the entire time you are wearing it. If that sounds like a fun time, then go ahead.
posted by empath at 10:13 AM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

I think you would have to give that level of explanation to everyone you saw, and even then it's not making a whole lot of sense. If you're not standing right next to your boyfriend, the 'bedbugs' sign is way out of the blue, and even if you were I really wouldn't get it unless you explained that you had a whole bedbugs theme mapped out. And then it would just be like, "Um...ok." I would probably either think that you were someone who 1) dressed up as a muslim for halloween with an inside joke hanging around your neck or 2) an actual muslim whose costume was an inside joke written on a sign.
posted by frobozz at 10:13 AM on October 29, 2010

Bad idea. If you're halloween costume takes an explanatory sign to prevent you from being taken the wrong way, then it is not a good halloween costume.
posted by Think_Long at 10:13 AM on October 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

This seems to me a bit like dressing in black-face to make a point about racism. Kind of tacky and not developed enough to warrant doing.

I like the bed bug idea a lot.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:14 AM on October 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

How will people tell the difference between you dressing as a Muslim and you just being Muslim? Seems like a non-costume costume.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:14 AM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

Although if it's a Sexy Hijab, that would be okay and is probably something you can buy at Spencer's Gifts.
posted by empath at 10:16 AM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Bedbugs are SCARY! Who isn't afraid of bedbugs?

I'm not averse to politicizing anything, especially the week before the election. Particularly at the rally. My big concern was offending Muslims. You guys (esp griphus) are making me rethink. (The Muslim friends I pinged thought it was hilarious, but they're secular smartasses like me.)

Thanks for the input! (Sigh, now I think we have to hurriedly make a damned mattress costume.)
posted by cyndigo at 10:16 AM on October 29, 2010

Just wear a pillowcase and some sheets/blankets--you know, be a bed.

I think the Muslim costume thing is ill-conceived and potentially offensive even if I wouldn't be offended.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:17 AM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

Nope, no need. With a world of great costume ideas out there why be something that could make you look like an ass after Halloween is over? Not saying that is your goal, just saying that is how people are going to see it.
posted by Felex at 10:19 AM on October 29, 2010

I'm not averse to politicizing anything, especially the week before the election.

What I meant (although clearly didn't write) was that it is the politicization of a group of people who are meant to be included. You don't want to make outsiders of the very people you are trying to defend.
posted by griphus at 10:21 AM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Der, I hadn't even thought of a BED instead of a mattress! That will be a lot easier. MeFi to the rescue.

Now I can get back to slutting up my bedbug costume. Thanks!
posted by cyndigo at 10:24 AM on October 29, 2010 [6 favorites]

Holy fucking shit, no. Hijab isn't a costume; even though you're mocking people who don't get hijab, you run a ginormous risk of looking like you're mocking people who wear hijab every day of their lives.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:25 AM on October 29, 2010 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: I've got it, THANKS. Seriously. That's why I asked.

The bedbug idea came about because every media outlet in the world this year has been "OMGBEDBUGS!" and when I came across the hijab this morning it occurred that a lot of people have very publicly been "OMGMUSLIMS!"
posted by cyndigo at 10:30 AM on October 29, 2010

Now I can get back to slutting up my bedbug costume.

I had to set my coffee down until I stopped laughing.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:31 AM on October 29, 2010 [5 favorites]

But I have a gorgeous hijab from my Iraq days.
The only way this could be okay is if you are Muslim. It sounds like you aren't Muslim, which makes using the hijab to dress up as up a Muslim as a terrible idea, however good the intentions. It's just not likely to end well. I am imagining some supportive folks chatting with you about discrimination against Muslims, making some comments that assume you are Muslim, and then awkward disclosures. Maybe they'll be glad for the solidarity, maybe not. Who knows what reaction you'll get, but I think it'd be understandable if they thrilled. Being Muslim is not a costume they can put on or take off, and they face rather severe discrimination in the U.S. (and elsewhere) because of it. Treating "Muslim" as a costume treats Muslims as exotic others -- we can't really go in costume as "regular folk," except perhaps ironically -- and I don't think that's what you want to do.

Consider also that every asshole at a "Dress as a [member of race]" party claims that they really respect [culture associated with race] and were dressing that way to honor them. Consider that many of these folks may in fact be sincere, and still be doing something deeply offensive.

Don't be the well-meaning liberal version of this. You can make your point in ways that don't involve dressing up as a member of an oppressed group.
posted by Marty Marx at 10:32 AM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

If Muslims want to come to the rally dressed as themselves to show, hey, we aren't scary, that's up to them.

You coming to the rally dressed as a stereotypical Muslim? Insensitive, and could be construed as mocking.

Bedbugs are good as a wildly exaggerated fear.

Another fear might be talking on the phone while in the car. I have no idea how you would do this costume, but it is REALLY making the Mom blog rounds right now. I got an email yesterday with over-the-top language, likening teens talking on the phone in the car to an epidemic for which there is no cure. It will KILL. US. ALL.
posted by misha at 10:34 AM on October 29, 2010

Oh, it's been covered. There was only one comment when I started typing! Shoulda previewed.
posted by Marty Marx at 10:34 AM on October 29, 2010

grr, *understandable if they're NOT thrilled*
posted by Marty Marx at 10:35 AM on October 29, 2010

Response by poster: "Texting while driving" would be great, but tough to convey.

Email from pinged friend (shared w/ permission):

Brilliant. I'm trying to figure out how to be the Ground Zero Mosque. BOO!

I suspect this is why she moved from Karachi to Manhattan.

Now, how can I make my bedbug sluttier?!? (Lower the neckline, raise the hem....)
posted by cyndigo at 10:39 AM on October 29, 2010

Now I can get back to slutting up my bedbug costume.

You're going to need like four pairs of fishnets. (So many horrible, shapely legs)

Bedbugs are good as a wildly exaggerated fear.

Not in my part of town, sister.
posted by griphus at 10:40 AM on October 29, 2010

Go w/ something else. Halloween is fun, not time for PC.
posted by stormpooper at 10:46 AM on October 29, 2010

The only time I have seen someone do something like this and have it work was this:

Lefty political friends threw a Halloween party (circa 2006) themed The Dead and specified that they want people to dress as people/things/ideas that are dead, totally abstract stuff being encouraged.

Because lefty political friends have a lot of other friends who are lefty political types, there are lots of political costumes. One couple came dressed in traditional Afghan garb, except the guy was in the Burqa and the woman was dressed in a perfect authentic Pashtun outfit. It was understood, in context that they were dressed as The War In Afghanistan. Also, the woman of the couple is of Pakistani Muslim heritage, herself. And we were all among friends who shared the same sense of humor.

If you're doing something like that, go for it! Though I'd suggest either both of you going with an overt religious/political theme (maybe your partner dresses like Juan Williams getting on a plane?), or the two of you making it clear that you are just two individuals dressed in totally unrelated costumes. Fitting a bedbug and someone in a chador/burqa/whatever you meant by "hijab" into one themed couple costume is a bit of a stretch.

Speaking of which, "hijab" does not describe any specific garment. And if you don't know enough about the culture to use the proper vocabulary, stay away from costumes about Islam.
posted by Sara C. at 11:29 AM on October 29, 2010

Best answer: Non-hijab-wearing non-secular Muslim woman here. Posting for the sake of anyone else who might consider this in the future. Please don't do this. a) it reinforces the stereotype that all practicing Muslim women wear hijab. b) all the reasons everyone else gave. c) This would make a lot of Muslims I know, including myself, incredibly uncomfortable. I'm sure many would even be offended.
posted by bardophile at 11:56 AM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, bardophile.

The reason I asked on MeFi was because I *don't* want to be the "well-meaning liberal" and have it backfire ... my friends (Muslim and non-Muslim) know me, my humor, and my intentions and love it but I wanted a broader range of opinions. I knew I was risking a pile-on, but still glad I asked.

Sara, my hijab is a head covering/veil and I most often see the word "hijab" referencing that. YMMV. I was undecided on whether or not to wear an abaya as the one I have is both itchy and probably too lightweight.

My bedbug costume still lacks sufficient sluttiness. Dammit.
posted by cyndigo at 12:33 PM on October 29, 2010

If you would be doing this with just some sort of headscarf, then FUCK NO. Stay away. Run, run, RUN from that idea. I mean, at least a specific garment like a chador or abaya would say "this person is specifically trying to reference some particular region/form of religious expression/whatever" and not just "anyone who covers their hair in public is some kind of weirdo foreigner".

To give some context - I've worn hijab in the sense you're using the tem to enter mosques and other Muslim sacred places while traveling. That doesn't make me Muslim, and nor does it say anything about my politics, my religious beliefs, my ethnicity, or really anything but "this person is dressed appropriately for her surroundings".
posted by Sara C. at 12:42 PM on October 29, 2010

Response by poster: Sara, that I would NOT be doing this was established some hours ago. But thanks.
posted by cyndigo at 12:46 PM on October 29, 2010

so what's your bedbug costume like? perhaps we can help you slut it up!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:45 PM on October 29, 2010

um, slight derail, I think, but plenty of people refer to wearing a head scarf as "wearing hijab" as distinct from niqab (veil), burqa (full body covering), abaya (gown) or chadar/chaddar/chador (lightweight shawl type thing). So hijab can mean a specific garment, but also "dressing modestly, in the Islamic sense of the word."

OP, thanks for asking before finalizing your costume. Good luck with the slutty bedbug thing. :)
posted by bardophile at 2:00 PM on October 29, 2010

A search of "sexy bug costume" yields all manner of costumes with wings. Just one problem - most bedbugs don't develop wings.

They do, however, have broad horizontal strips and a large rounded back. So how about strapping a red one of these collapsible beach mats on, wearing a tight striped [whatever meets the 'slutty' criteria] and drawing black/brown stripes on the mat to match the outfit's stripes?
posted by Hardcore Poser at 3:39 PM on October 29, 2010

Sorry, forgot the link for 'collapsible beach mat.'
posted by Hardcore Poser at 3:41 PM on October 29, 2010

If you're going to be a sexy bed, you'll need dirtypillows.
posted by emeiji at 7:49 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well, I had a rocking Halloween party on Friday and one of my guy friends came in a hijab, and we all thought it was pretty funny. But that it's probably easier to pull off as a guy. ::shrug::
posted by amileighs at 6:21 PM on October 30, 2010

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