Rethink Your Office Halloween Costume

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The media is currently very focused on sexual harassment. With the bad and sometimes criminal behavior of Hollywood power players being exposed and many women (and men) sharing their own horror stories of workplace sexual harassment, businesses are becoming hyper aware of potential sexual landmines. 

While the headlines focus on people in positions of power creating hostile work environments, people at all levels can contribute to a sexually inappropriate atmosphere, especially at Halloween. 

If your workplace participates in either an office Halloween party or expects employees to dress in costume, either to work with the public or as a part of the company culture, here are some handy tips to avoid damaging your own reputation as well as that of the company.

 

#1 - If your chosen costume has the word “sexy” in the title…think again.

The workplace is no place for your Sexy Policewoman, Sexy Devil, or Stripper. Save those for your private Halloween events if you must, but even then, professionals can seriously damage their reputations when social media pictures emerge featuring overtly sexual costumes.

This is more of a problem for women who are often pushed to select sex kitten costumes, but men can also cause problems with male stripper, 70’s porn star, or pimp costumes.

 

#2 - Avoid costumes that make a political or religious statement of any kind.

Even if it seems that everyone around you shares your political leanings, work places are often secretly much more diverse then you may realize. Lots of people don’t share their political feeling and may nod and smile in agreement with whatever is being said to avoid discussing politics at work. If you work with members of the public, you are even more likely to interact with people of differing political leanings.

Political costumes are inappropriate for the work place.

The same goes for religion. People who normally have a “thick skin” can feel very passionately about their religion. Poking fun or disparaging religion is always a bad idea.

 

#3 - Costumes portraying other ethnicities are a no-no

Portraying other ethnicities, even in a respectful way, is very controversial at the moment. While Halloween is arguably about dressing up as someone or something else, culturally, at the moment, you can’t cross racial lines.

 

So what types of costumes are appropriate for an office that celebrates Halloween?

 

#4 - Personalities and characters from popular entertainment, provided that they don't violate the above non-nos, make great costumes. 

Whether you are inspired by current entertainers or greats from the past, selecting a popular entertainer to emulate can make for a really fun and non-offensive costume. But you don't need to confine yourself to actual performers. Dressing as a character from a favorite TV show, film, game, or book can result in both an office appropriate and thought provoking costume.

 

#5 - Consider the classics

From zombies and ghosts to ballerinas and ball players, the classic Halloween costumes rarely cause offense and can allow you to be really creative. Maybe a ballerina zombie or a ghost of a ball player? 

 

#6 - Witty costumes can be lots of fun without going "all in"

From taping a couple dozen nickles to the back of your tee shirt and going to the holiday party as "Nickleback" to wearing a mask and the sticker name tags of your co-workers stuck all over your shirt and going as an "identity thief," witty costumes rely more on the pun then the preparation of elaborate clothing or make-up.  

Selecting a Halloween costume doesn't need to be a stressful, embarrassing, or damaging to your career. Just be aware of the no-nos and you will be fine! Have a great Halloween!

Alexandrea Merrell