A company is selling an offensive “sexy” geisha Halloween costume, and when will this end?
It’s officially October, which means the scramble to find a Halloween costume has begun. And unfortunately, it means that offensive and problematic outfits are out in full force. Yandy recently made waves with a “sexy” Handmaid’s Tale costume, and Fashion Nova is threatening to rival that with several racist costumes—including a “sexy” geisha.
The costume, which retails on Fashion Nova for $49.99, features a black kimono, which for some mystifying reason is open in the front to reveal a black mini-skirt. The getup also includes “hair sticks” and an obi—a traditional Japanese belt used to tie a kimono. To add insult to injury, Teen Vogue reports that the word “Geisha” was originally misspelled as “Geshia” on the site, although this appears to have been changed.
As Teen Vogue notes, geisha have existed in Japan for hundreds of years, and they are highly skilled entertainers. There are still practicing geisha (sometimes called geiko) in Japan today. And despite popular misconceptions, geisha do not have sex with their clients. Sexualizing this profession is not only inaccurate, but it contributes to harmful stereotypes about “exotic” Asian women.
The “sexy geisha” isn’t Fashion Nova’s only offensive outfit. The site also lists several ninja costumes, as well as a “Queen Cleopatra” outfit modeled by a blonde white woman. Fashion Nova is also selling a “Senorita Muerte” costume, which appropriates traditional Mexican motifs seen during the holiday Día de los Muertos.
And of course, Fashion Nova isn’t the only brand guilty of racism or cultural appropriation. Even after the Handmaid’s Tale controversy, Yandy has continued to sell “sexy” Native American costumes.
Halloween can be a fun excuse to dress up and get creative with your look. But someone else’s culture is not a costume, and it’s time for brands to recognize that.