WASHINGTON – Most would never consider dressing up for Halloween as a victim of domestic violence but an emerging costume trend this holiday is drawing national attention for its bad taste.
Some adults are choosing to dress as former Ravens player Ray Rice and his wife Janay, mimicking the very public elevator attack that later led to Rice’s suspension from the NFL.
On social media, some people are sharing photos of their domestic violence- inspired costume featuring painted-on bruises, while others are wearing Rice’s jersey dragging a blow-up doll around behind them.
Perhaps the most disturbing, some are sharing photos of children dressed in jerseys carrying around dolls by their hair.
— TYT Network (@TYTNetwork) October 29, 2014
Rice’s wife, Janay, responded to the trend on Twitter:
.@TMZ it's sad, that my suffering amuses others
— Janay Rice (@JanayRice) October 22, 2014
Steph Woods, a professor of pop culture at American University says the costume takes it too far.
“I think it’s disgusting. It makes light of things in a way that’s comical, that’s used for entertainment,” Woods says.
While she concedes Halloween costumes mirroring the year’s news events is not new, choosing to focus on a specific couple, a specific victim, she says crosses a line.
“For victims, for their family members, this isn’t an issue in which anyone can dress up or dress over,” Woods says.
It also likely furthers the stigma many victims of domestic violence face who could see these costumes worn by unknowing friends and neighbors, Woods says.
On his show, Keith Olbermann names those following the costume trend his “World’s Worst.”
Woods expects to see costumes related to ISIS and Ebola, however she suggests deriving edgy costume creativity from fiction.
“Hunger Games, the 50 Shades movie coming out a couple months … There’s an opportunity to be very creative. I think there’s fictional and non-fictional characters, but not in a way that makes light of other people’s suffering or further perpetuates this as accepted,” Woods says.