Saturnalia is just around the corner, and here’s a yearly reminder of what NOT to wear for your costume:
A Barbarian warrior
Rome has systematically oppressed many a “Barbarian”. From calling their language primitive gibberish, to enslaving them, it’s fair to say they’re an oppressed minority. When you put on those trousers, you’re appropriating their culture since you can dabble in their “exotic” styles, without facing their adversity in Roman society. Everyday, barbarians are underrepresented in the roman army, often as auxiliaries only getting 1/3rd pay as a legionary, are subject to punishments that Romans are immune from, and cannot vote or hold an office. Unlike them, once you take the warpaint and trousers off, you’re back to being a Roman citizen and the rights it entails. You get to be a “barbarian” for one day, they’re stuck with it for life! It is due to your Roman privilege that these microaggressions can go on.
A Hebrew or Christian
From taking the Hebrew’s land, yet not allowing them full citizenship rights, they too are a minority. Please leave the pharisee costume at home! I mean, after burning their temple, it’s the least you can do. Also, no Christian things either, their religion is underrepresented and treated with hate and suspicion. Many Christians are peaceful, law abiding citizens, not subversive insurgents trying to undermine the state. Let’s not forget all of the run-ins with the law they had for being unfairly profiled! This Christophobia is unfounded and hurtful. Christian lives matter!
Many gladiators are slaves that are hurt and die for our entertainment. They have seen their homes destroyed and families split apart before they were forced to perform in the arena. That gladiator outfit may make you look fierce and cool, but at least you get to take it off after and walk away free, unlike them. It’s highly insensitive to the gladiator’s plight to wear their gear as your costume. They face macroaggressions in the arena, please don’t create microaggressions they must fight against too.
Grecian theater masks
Yes, I get you’re obsessed with all things Greek, but really? You appropriate Greek culture enough already! It’s okay to enslave the best and brightest of them, despite admiring their culture. Romans, stop copying the Greeks and get your own ideas! Quit Romanizing ancient Greek stories and “Rome-washing” all of the Greek characters and making their names Roman! They were around centuries before Rome ever was! It’s insensitive to Greeks everywhere, so stop.
If you wonder whether or not your costume is offensive ask yourself these questions:
- Is it copying another culture and feeding into stereotypes?
- Is it meant to portray someone in a negative or satirical light?
- Does it portray someone as “exotic” or “different”?
- Was it done at someone’s expense?
Romans, check your privilege! Don’t help oppress others this or any Saturnalia…
Ecce! Privilegium Romanum! (Behold! Roman Privilege!)