Unless it's still 1980 or thereabouts, "Native Indian Princess" costumes—or any Halloween get-ups that cross the line into cultural appropriation—simply cannot be tolerated.
Advocacy group Chiefs of Ontario and BBDO Toronto have teamed up to make that point in a campaign themed #NotACostume. The work notes that stereotypical attire, such as the costume immediately below, is best consigned to the dustbins of memory:
Indigenous people are just that—people. They're living, breathing human beings, not some cut-rate collection of plastic moccasins, rubber tomahawks and faux-tribal headgear purchased at some shop in the mall.
They're firefighters, lawyers, doctors, pilots and members of every profession on the planet, as this more enlightened costume collection attests:
We can recall, vividly, back in the day, when clichéd depictions of indigenous folks and people of non-European ethnicities wouldn't have raised an eyebrow. "You look adorable as a squaw!" That's what most, if not all, of the parents on our street would have cooed at trick-or-treaters. Deeper thoughts would never have crossed their minds.
While society has come a long way since then, it's sobering to remember that such issues still simmer just below the surface (note the shameful blackface specter raised by Canada's just-completed national elections). Sadly, some folks still need reminders that subverting the dignity of any group—or individual, for that matter—diminishes us all.
BBDO is promoting the campaign on social media and through PR outreach, while the costumes themselves are displayed at Toronto store Theatrics Plus.
Campaign Title: #NOTACOSTUME
Client: Chiefs of Ontario
Creative Agency: BBDO Toronto
Chief Creative Officer: Denise Rossetto, Todd Mackie
VP, Associate Creative Director: Derek Blais
Art Director: Danielle Zablocki
Copywriter: London Choi
SVP, Business Director: Rebecca Flaman
Director, SGL Studios: Matt Eves
Photographer: Peter Andrew Lusztyk