It's 2017. Parents aren't just dressing their daughters up as princesses for Halloween anymore. In teaching their girls that there are other women to look up to, we're seeing mini versions of historical figures like Amelia Earhart and Frida Kahlo. I hope (dear God, do I hope) that's what these retailers were going for when they released an Anne Frank Halloween costume, which is — understandably — not boding well with the people of the internet, for very obvious reasons.
In an effort to be fair, it's important to note the possibility that not all retailers meant for this to be an insensitive Halloween costume. In fact, a PR representative for FunCostumes explained just that in a response via Twitter to the backlash they received: "Thank you for reaching out. We sell costumes not only for Halloween, but for many uses outside of the Halloween season, such as school projects and plays. We offer several types of historically accurate costumes — from prominent figures to political figures, to television characters. We take feedback from customers very seriously. We have passed along the feedback regarding this costume, and it has been removed from the website at this time. We apologize for any offense it has caused, as that's never our intention."
But while it may have been intended as a tribute to an important girl from history, some people are calling it horribly tone-deaf.
The costume includes a blue dress, brown bag, and green beret. In the product listing, the company described Frank as a hero and an inspiration, saying, "we can always learn from the struggles of history." All true words, yes — but is turning Frank into a costume and profiting off of the suffering of her and countless others really the way to honor her?
Not that Anne Frank needs any introduction, but for those who need a refresher, she became well known after her diary detailing her time hiding in the Netherlands from 1942 to 1944 was first published in 1947. Since then, it has been translated into 60 different languages. Though we don't know for sure, Frank is thought to have died in early 1945 during a typhus outbreak.
Indeed, it's not something to be taken lightly. The Holocaust claimed many (many) millions of lives — a type of suffering that probably doesn't belong depicted in a Halloween costume. Alexandra DeVitt, a spokesperson for the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, tells Fox News, "There are more appropriate ways to commemorate the legacy of Anne Frank than through a Halloween costume, which is offensive and trivializes her suffering and the suffering of millions during the Holocaust. We are pleased that the costume has been pulled."
Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Education Trust, minced no words: "Why would anyone want to 'dress up' as Anne Frank, a young girl murdered by the Nazis, for Halloween?" Good question...
Tweets flooded in, and people were baffled, to say the least.
While outrage over the Anne Frank costume was abundant, there were others who didn't see what all the fuss was about.
Others drew parallels between the Anne Frank costume and other Halloween costumes we might want to retire.
Over the years, there's been a noticeable shift in Halloween costumes, from the cutesy and sexy to the meaningful and thought-provoking. People are becoming more aware of offensive Halloween costumes — like Geishas and Native Americans — and asking for change. It's not just about the costume. It's about the way we view certain groups of people. Could there be a time and a place for dressing up like Anne Frank? Perhaps a school project or a play, as the PR rep for FunCostumes said? Maybe. Maybe. But selling it online to make a quick buck for a holiday that's based on dressing in costume merely for fun? We might want to rethink that approach.