Character, Not Race

I don’t speak for all Latinos, nor do I speak for the entirety of the PoC community worldwide. This is a statement that I think needs to be understood when getting into “social media debates” surrounding cultural appropriation and costumes, and this is a statement that I am making before I get started.

There is a debate that happens every year around Halloween and getting tagged in these debates because I am “the brown friend” is getting old. The most recent debate started over an article entitled “Why You Shouldn’t Dress Your Kids Up As Moana This Halloween” and it blew up my newsfeed. So, I felt like instead of addressing each and every post that people tagged me in, that I would instead write up a small response the best way I know how.

First and foremost, I want to say that I think it’s fine if kids want to wear costumes of characters whom they don’t share the same skin tone with. I think seeing kids of color dressed as white characters in pop culture is adorable and white kids dressing up as Moana can be just as adorable. The biggest problem is when parents try to darken or lighten the skin in order to make the costume “look better”. Changing skin tone is never ok and will never be okay. Black face, brown face, yellow face, etc have been used to demean and disrespect other cultures for years and those wounds have not healed, so don’t do it.

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© Ohio State University

It’s not just painting skin that can be problematic, but doing anything that can be seen as highlighting the race of a character is also problematic. Things like hairstyle, clothing, or even symbolic tattoos can be seen as mockery towards another culture. Last fall, there was a PR nightmare down at Brigham Young University when their student-ran comedy troupe “Divine Comedy” decided to do a Moana parody. The parody itself was meant to be a mash up of the problematic LDS film Johnny Lingo with Moana and apparently it was supposed to be funny. But when they released the poster for the event, the Polynesian characters were being played by white actors in what could be deemed as brown face. The actor portraying Maui was a white male wearing a brown shirt, and the worst wig known to costuming

©2017 Brigham Young University

If you’re thinking to yourself, “I want to honor those other cultures by having my family dress as those amazing characters.” Great! Fantastic! Wonderful! Honor them. Help your children learn more about the cultures you are wanting them to honor. If they want to be Moana or Maui, then sit them down and read the history of Maui and learn why the Moana story can be so important to the Polynesian community. The same goes for wanting to portray characters of any culture. It’s not on the PoC community to try and teach people why something is offensive, it is on the people wanting to honor these cultures to educate themselves.

Now that I’ve touched on costumes, let me talk about the subject I get tagged in most frequently online, Sugar Skulls and Dia de los Muertos. As a family we have barely started celebrating this holiday, but growing up, I remember my grandparents teaching me why the holiday is important as well as telling me stories of their families and growing up in Mexico. While Sugar Skulls have nothing to do with Halloween, I personally have never taken issue with people who’ve painted sugar skulls on their faces for Halloween. However, I do know quite a few people who celebrate the holiday and do take issue, so because I am still learning about the ceremony and ritual behind Dia de los Muertos, I defer to their feelings on this issue.

©2017 Disney/Pixar

The point I am trying to make is that if you are going to dress as characters from other cultures, or send your kids dressed as those characters, do it with respect and understanding. Also, realize that your choice will be seen as problematic in the eyes of some, and those people have every right to be upset, so don’t just tell them “it’s just a costume, relax!!” Be willing to ask thoughtful questions, listen and learn. To those who might get upset, like I said earlier, it’s not our jobs to teach, but we must be willing.

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DIY Green Brick Ninja Boxtume

***Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. We have teamed up with Amazon and we are being compensated by the Mom It Forward Influencer Network and for our participation in this campaign.***

When you do a lot of shopping on Amazon.com, you sometimes have a plethora of unused cardboard boxes in the house. You could easily just throw them in the recycling, never to be seen again, or you can get some scissors, hot glue, and paint, and you can throw together a Halloween Boxtume for your kiddos. In this post, I will show you how we made our Boxtume, the Green Brick Ninja.

Amazon Prime Smile Boxes

What you will need:

Creating the Helmet:

Step #1: Measure the circumference of your child’s head from the middle of their forehead wrapping around the the middle of the back of their head.

Step#2: Measure from the center of the forehead to the center of the back of the head.

Step #3: Cut 1 inch tall strips to the length of the two measurements.

Step #4: Glue pieces together.

Step #5: Cut out triangular shapes and glue to the two strips to create the dome shape of the helmet.

Cardboard Helmet

Step #6: Measure the back of your child’s head from temple to temple.

Step#7: Cut out a 2-inch tall piece to the length measured.

Step #8: Glue to the dome

Finished Helmet

Step #9: Measure a piece an inch longer than the circumference of the dome. Start with 1 inch tall and round it up to 3 inches in the center to mimic a headband look.

Cardboard Headband

Step #10: Repeat step 9, but make the center a little wider to create the mask.

Cardboard Mask

The finished head piece should look like this. Hold off painting and gluing until the very end, just in case you need to make adjustments.

Head piece

Building the Bottom Half:

Step #1: Using your child’s shoe to measure the feet, trace width and length giving about ½-inch space on the front, back, and top of cardboard to make sure your child can slide their feet into the cardboard.

Step #2: Cut out the pieces you just traced.

Step #3: Glue pieces together to make the feet.

Step #4: Measure your child’s leg from the top of the foot to their knee.

Step #5: Draw and cut out leg pieces

Step #6: Glue leg pieces to the feet.

Step #7: Measure your child’s waist and from their belly button to the small of their back.

Step #8: Cut out two 2-inch tall pieces to the measurements you just took.

Step #9: Glue the two pieces together

The bottom portion of the boxtume should look like this. Again, hold off on painting until the end, just in case you need to make adjustments.

Bottom Half

 

Building the Upper Body:

Step #1: Measure your child’s upper body from the shoulders to their belly button.

Step #2: Find a box that will fit those measurements, or one that you can cut down a bit.

Step #3: Cut the smaller flaps that connect the box, leaving about an inch of flap on both sides.

Step #4: Draw circles big enough for your child’s arms and head to fit through

Upper Body

Step #5: Glue the long flaps to the remaining inch of the smaller flaps.

Step #6: Once the glue has dried, cut out the arms and head circles.

At this point, you are ready for paint. your boxtume should be looking like this.

IMG_9535

Painting:

When painting this boxtume, the only things that should not be painted black are the mask and the headband. You will need about two coats of black paint and should be fine with one coat of the green. Follow the instructions on the spray paint to ensure the best paint job possible. I would also recommend using a primer, just in case.

Once the paint has dried, you are ready to glue the headband and mask onto the dome. Put a line of glue around the bottom of the dome about 1/2 inch at a time. Do the same for the mask to ensure the best stick with the glue. Your Green Brick Ninja boxtume should now look like this.

IMG_9546

Now that the boxtume is all painted, you are ready for the detailed paint. Grab your paint brush and get ready to have some fun! For some strange reason I chose to do a lot of the detailed work freehand. You can do this as well, or you can draw it out with a pen before painting.  

Once the paint has dried, you can take a black Sharpie to add a little more detail to the boxtume.

Detail Work

Unless you need to make some alterations (like I had to) your Green Box Ninja Boxtume should be finished!

Finished Boxtume

Remember when I posted about making sure that you don’t paint until everything is measured. Well here is the point of the post where I tell you that I did not do. After doing all the detail painting, we noticed that the thigh pieces were a lot lower than I originally thought. So we had to do some slight modifications to the boxtume to help its look.

We took the X-acto knife and cut around the bottom of the thigh to separate the knee and the foot. I then gave a two finger space from the back of the cardboard to the back of the leg, creating a “new” back of the leg. This helps the thigh piece stay in place as your child is walking around in the boxtume. For more support, you can cut holes in the thigh piece and thread some elastic through or you can tie the thigh piece to your child. Here’s an example of what this should look like.  

Altered Knee Piece

Throw on a green undershirt, some gloves, and some black pants to complete this boxtume.

Child in Boxtume

When your child is done wearing their Green Brick Ninja boxtume, use the body of the boxtume for quick and easy storage!

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Now that you have seen how easy it can be to make a boxtume with boxes from Amazon.com, go and get your boxes and start building. Make sure you use #Boxtumes and #AmazonPrime so everyone can see the amazing work that you and your family can do.