STARS / Leah Woodruff

The 2004 cinematic masterpiece “Mean Girls” had a number of profound quotes, like this one:

“Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.” Those were the famous words uttered by Cady Heron, the character played by Lindsay Lohan in the teen comedy.


The other common tragedy that happens on Halloween is that some individuals like to dress up in not-so-clever costumes based on stereotypes of other ethnic groups.

A student group at Ohio University called Students Teaching About Racism in Society (STARS) has taken it upon themselves to remind schoolmates that dressing up like a member of a different culture may affect others negatively. In one poster a model dressed up as a stereotypical Mexican man donning a mustache and sombrero is seen surrounded by real life Latino students who look nothing like the man in costume.

The poster reads: “We’re a culture, not a costume.”

“When this is how the world sees you, it’s just not that funny,” the poster goes on to say.


Paris Aaron, STARS’ vice-president who’s a Junior studying criminology, says he understands that when people wear these costumes it's generally purely for fun. “But I want people to understand they can hurt people sometimes because some are offended by these costumes."

"In smaller communities where people don’t get to rub shoulders with others from different ethnicities, these costumes can re-affirm stereotypes into people's brains. These costumes can make people think that this is how some people are and that it's alright to make fun of other cultures,” Aaron told Fusion.

Located in Athens, Ohio the university’s student body is made up of about 81 percent white students, according to the school's website. The students funded the campaign with their own money because they missed a deadline to qualify for the school’s student funding, Aaron said.


Aaron says he hopes the posters spark a discussion.

"I hope people see how these costumes affect others and find a common ground, find a median, not just for Halloween but everyday,” Aaron said. “I don't want people to be stepping on eggshells, I just want them to be culturally aware."

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Photos courtesy of Students Teaching About Racism in Society (STARS) . Photos by Leah Woodruff and Jennifer Lee.