Disability Is Not A Costume

Disability isn’t your prop for jokes.


Halloween should be an absolute blast. What’s not to love? Dressing up, trick or treats, ridiculous parties… or, if you like avoiding people, dark nights where you can just chill and feel cosy at home. Except that every year, Halloween becomes a nightmare for disabled people. Not only are most venues to celebrate the night actually inaccessible, but brands and people across the world seem to think disability is an okay costume.

This isn’t just a Halloween thing. In the cosplay community, abled and biotypical people dressing up as disabled is incredibly commonplace, but at least that is reserved to geek spaces. Halloween makes it suddenly acceptable for everyone to do it.

Disabilities are never a prop for jokes. Yet, using disability has gone back centuries. It has become embedded in our culture. Even traditional Halloween creatures such as zombies draw incredibly uncomfortable implications with learning disabilities and old stereotypes about mental health. However, certain creatures have in modern day society moved away from the very problematic origins that they sprung from. Now, the biggest and most troubling uses of disability to poke fun at tend to be along fake disfigurements, feigning sight impairments and/or wearing fake prosthetics. Walking aids and even wheelchairs suddenly become used as accessories by abled people rather than recognised for the essential tools that they are.

“Disabilities are never a prop for jokes”

Not only does it show a staggering lack of imagination from abled people who never fail to manage to make disability all about them, but it represents a co-option of identities and oppression by the very people who cause the problems in the first place. Disabled people face struggles due to accessibility and/or prejudice every single day. This government has targeted disabled people in the most shocking and cruel of cuts. It is not okay for abled people to dress up as disabled for a laugh. Disability is not yours to own.

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