African, Chinese and Indian makeup sets spark heated racial debate

Oct 13, 2015 at 6:55 a.m. ET

It's that time of year again: scouring our local fancy dress shops for an inventive Halloween costume. Unfortunately some outlets are still way behind when it comes to racial stereotypes.

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An image taken in a Glasgow costume shop and posted on Imgur by user booinglasgow on Monday showed that, while blackface is a definite no-no for most of us, there are still retailers who think it's perfectly OK to sell stuff like this: 

Makeup sets in Glasgow costume shop
Image: booinglasgow/Imgur

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The comments on the post range from calling the items out as racist ("mommy mommy, i wanna be a chocolate person for halloween"), to wondering what all the fuss is about: "Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. No different in my eyes than wanting to be a nurse or a police officer."

Of course not everyone who uses makeup sets like this is racist. But it's important to know the background of blackface. It started in the 19th century as a makeup technique for white actors used to transform them into black characters for entertainment. Using blackface today is widely considered to be racist, because traditionally the white actors in the era of the minstrel show portrayed black characters as racist stereotypes to their audiences.

Is it ever OK to use face paint to dress up as someone from another race? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

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