Treading into the Halloween costume territory is always risky business for manufacturers and retailers. So much can go wrong so easily. Ideas that seem clever or cute can be interpreted in entirely the opposite manner of what was intended. They can also be plainly out of touch and offensive. Either way, controversy and social media backlash often ensues in dramatic fashion.
Enter 2016’s first major costume controversy: the ‘ladies sexy Saudi burka Islamic costume’ brought to you, reportedly for the bargain price of $23, by the fine folks at Amazon. Fresh off a summer of discontent that gripped France over the controversial burkini beachwear, Amazon’s U.K. website offered customers the sexy burka among its vast collection of other sexy Halloween costumes. Customers noticed the costume, which unlike the actual burka, didn’t cover much of the lower half of the wearer’s body, and began flooding the page with comments blasting the costume as “racist” and “disgusting” and saying it amounted to cultural appropriation. “You’re all disgusting racists. My culture is not your costume,” one angry customer wrote, according to RT. “A person’s culture is NOT a fancy dress costume,” another chimed in.
Amazon U.K. eventually pulled the product from its site, but didn’t issue an apology, since apparently it was posted by a third-party seller. The retail giant instead directed sellers to “follow selling guidelines” or face a suspension of selling privileges.
This is hardly the first time a ‘sexy burka’ Halloween costume has been available for sale online. A search of Twitter shows people have pointed out the item being for sale back in 2014 and 2013. At least two other online retailers still currently carry a ‘sexy burka’ costume. On those previous occasions, some social media users expressed outrage but, global controversy surrounding traditional Islamic dress hadn’t reached the fevered pitch that it had today, so, apparently, there was no widespread uproar. In 2012, Sears offered a sexy burka costume. Some on social media expressed amusement and others were outraged, according to a search of tweets from the time period. Eventually, Sears quietly pulled the product from its website, leading some to criticize the retailer for caving to the influence of Sharia law.
Read the full story at RT.