It can be hard to find a costume for Halloween, and many people throw together an outfit at the last minute. Whether you have a costume ready or are still figuring one out, reminds you that you should not be dressing up as a person experiencing homelessness.
It can be easy to grab some clothes and dress in the stereotype of a person dealing with homelessness. Some think of someone dirty, sitting on the sidewalk with torn clothes and their stuff in bags next to them. This isn’t always the reality.
Most people experiencing homelessness don’t fit the cookie-cutter idea of homeless. There are teenageres who have been kicked out and bounce around between friends’ houses each night. There are people with full-time jobs that live in their cars. There are people who have money and live in shelters because they can’t access their funds. There are people who are looking for jobs but don’t have a way to be contacted for the job.
By looking at exaggerated parts of homelessness, those facing the realities of the situation are dehumanized. There are a variety of situations or circumstances that force individuals into homelessness, and people don’t realize this when looking only at stereotypes. When people dress like an individual experiencing homelessness for fun, they are taking away from the realities and seriousness of the situation. Many individuals experiencing homelessness are sick or disabled, have been through abuse, and more. What people see is what’s in front of them and not what puts these individuals in these positions. These depictions are the reasons why people suffering from homelessness end up being discriminated against, experiencing hate crimes and violence, and missed opportunities compared to others. Individuals experiencing homelessness are no longer seen as people facing a difficult situation in their life. They end up being the punchline to a joke because people don’t wonder why anymore.