Should we be mad a clothing store used a white model for this Beyoncé "Formation" costume?
'Tis the season of Halloween, and undoubtedly, it'll also become the season of problematic, offensive and flat-out uncreative costumes.
While outrage over a "tranny granny" costume and a Kim Kardashian West Paris robbery getup may have given your average offender pause before going a similarly problematic route for Halloween, controversy is brewing over a photo of a seemingly white model wearing a Beyoncé "Formation" costume, posted to clothing store Planet Blue's Instagram account.
Some see it as white people dressing up in black empowerment. The costume copies one of Queen Bey's looks from the iconic music video, complete with the two long braids and middle finger pose. Though the look is undoubtedly on point, some commenters pointed out it's not OK to use a white model to reduce "Formation," a powerful statement on black female empowerment and social justice, to nothing more than a Halloween costume.
"You do realize her album is about the black rights and is extremely wrong for white people to even dress up like this," one person wrote on Instagram. "White Beyoncé isn't a thing and should not be a thing, it's cultural appropriation."
"Yeah not cool the album is about black rights, really not meant to be a costume for white girls," another commenter wrote.
"Formation" is so much more than just another banger. Beyoncé's visual album is certainly more than just a compilation of club bangers and fashion inspiration. It's about black women embracing and celebrating their beauty, sexuality and emotions. It's a rallying cry for social justice and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Given the powerful meaning behind the song "Formation," is it OK for a white woman to dress up in a costume from the video for Halloween fun?
Although the costume wearer may not fully appreciate the meaning behind the song, this approach to a Beyoncé costume is a step in the right direction. Even though there's no way to know if the woman in the photo fully understands or even cares about the social significance of "Formation," there's something to be said that a white woman wants to dress as Beyoncé in an era where she is boldly taking a stand for black lives and black femininity.
In a statement emailed to Mic, a representative from Planet Blue said:
"Our Halloween inspiration was intended as an expression of our appreciation and solidarity for both the art and social commentary of Formation. Due to the political and cultural importance of Formation, we specifically strove to recreate the strength of Beyonce in way that we hoped would positively inspire our customers. Our costume was not meant to make light of the importance of Formation."
Not everything has to be appropriation — sometimes it's just paying homage.
This Beyoncé costume — while perhaps lacking some nuance — is a good example of how one can dress up as a black celebrity without using blackface — which is never a good idea. You can pay homage and celebrate your favorite celebrity of a different race without mocking their culture and using unimaginative racial stereotypes.
Oct. 19, 2016, 3:17 p.m.: This story has been updated.