We are not a costume

The mentally ill are not a horror show.


Halloween, to many is fun traditional holiday celebrated by collecting free candy and dressing up as scary and ghoulish characters. However, to roughly 42 million people across the country, Halloween can be offensive and upsetting because of how they are portrayed by decorations and costumes. Somehow, the idea of dressing up like a mental patient became a popular trend causing many Halloween themed activities to adopt the category.

If one googles Halloween Mental Asylum,  one will find page after page of horror and gore dressed as those who are “disturbed” or “insane”. Mental hospitals are places of terror and their patents are blood thirsty in the eyes of Halloween. They are costumes, things people see as nothing more than something to dress as to scare others. Popular stores such as Party City and Spirit  Halloween portray old school treatment of mental patients which is the most popular view of the mentally ill.

Party City has a whole section dedicated too a mental asylum decorations. The description of the section is as follows, “You’d be insane not to join us! Terrorize the neighborhood with a creepy insane asylum theme! Bloody body parts, unhinged inmates and twisted chains create a bone-chilling setting for a night of macabre fun. Keep clicking to see more insanely cool asylum decoration ideas for a house of horror everyone enters…but no one leaves!” This is followed by pictures of their decorations.


Spirit Halloween has similar decorations. One of the decorations has a photo and a description. “The patients are out for blood on this Asylum Lenticular! The decoration features a half-face restraint masked patient in a straight jacket being injected by a zombie-like nurse with blood and chains all over. A graphic like this will be the perfect for your home turned asylum!”


An online prop store also sells things for Halloween. This description followed by creepily accurate replicas of vintage instruments. “The insane asylum theme is so much fun for a haunted house or horror movie. Here are some props to help you decorate that padded cell. Don’t forget to board up your windows.”


Just as there are sexy nurses and construction workers, there are sexy costumes depicting mental illness in a few different ways. One costume has stirred up loads of controversy. The suppliers of the costume have since taken the costume down so a direct quote from the site is not obtainable however it is called “Anna Rexia” directly referring to an eating disorder. This sexualizes a sever problem that effects body images, making it even harder for those dealing anorexia.  So many people were offended by the costume that it is no longer being sold.



They also have a sexy mental patient costume. This glorifies mental illness by making it sexy. It makes fun of those with a legitimate mental health issue. “It can be offensive to certain people because it’s for some people a serious medical problem and it’s disrespectful to pretend and poke fun at that,” said WBHS student, Josh Ward (senior). 


Some think nothing of seeing these types of things in stores or online. Others are deeply upset by them and others still don’t have opinions. Several classes were interviewed to obtain an array of answers to represent every opinion. Hailey Brown (senior) said, “I never thought of it in this way. I don’t believe it’s okay for mental patients to be portrayed on Halloween as they are being made fun of for being scary and different.” Like most interviewed, Hailey believes that this topic is wrong. Although, some kids seemed to have a different opinion. Shehr Asghar (senior) said “Yes, it is appropriate, because it’s a costume, people should be able to dress however they want.” Everybody interviewed had different opinions and views on this subject. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, and not everyone is going to agree.


Overall, the decision of what you choose to wear on Halloween is yours;  it can, however be offensive. Although Halloween is festive and enjoyable, there is a line. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Being respectful and having fun is how Halloween should work. Being aware of how your costume can affect others is very important. You should not have to base your decision of what to wear on the feelings of others, but do not be rude or insensitive of those who are offended. Just as you have the right to wear what you want, others have the right to be offended. More people than one would expect to deal with mental illness and so costumes depicting mental illnesses, the mentally ill, old fashioned asylums, or current day mental institutions can be hurtful because they are currently portrayed. Mental illness is a serious matter and is not a joke to many. Think before you poke fun at something that isn’t funny.