By now we've all seen the disgusting “Sexy Ebola Nurse” costume. There have been and always will be individuals who believe the end-laughs or jaw drops will always justify the offensive means. Whether it's a tragic global event or a recently deceased celebrity, individuals are looking to be remembered by any means necessary.
Nurses specifically are not new to the art of distasteful Halloween costumes. Despite us being nearly a decade and a half into the 21st century, we still run into a handful of sexy nurse costumes each year – all of whom I would confidently say can't tell you what RN stands for – and to have the nursing profession mimicked and devalued. I have my colleague and RN Zach (@ZachtheNurse) sitting across from me, let's see what he is wearing:
Yup, those scrubs really show off his body…
Now let's take a look at what is, by far, the worst Halloween costume of 2014: The Sexy Ebola Containment Suit.
Most people Everyone would agree that this is easily one of the most insulting, deplorable, or distasteful costumes ever conceived. I have decided to break down this attempt at shock value below.
1. “Trickles through the United States”
The description of the costume is almost worse than the costume itself! “You could potentially be the talk of the town if you wear this costume!” Well, that certainly is true, but I will vouch that no one will be talking about you because of how fashionable you are with your flair for parochialism. I also can't help but comment on the notion that the description also emphasizes ebola in the United States. While this is a small point to nitpick, I can't help but bring up the point that while Ebola “trickles its way through the United States,” the Center for Disease Control reports that nearly 5,000 people have died from Ebola, a tiny fraction of reports, let alone deaths coming from the United States.
2. Offensive AND Subtly Sexist
When reading the line, “ending plague isn't the endeavor of a single woman,” I naturally concluded that the company is trying to cross-promote the male version of the costume, letting a couple dress up and disgust all their friends together. However, upon clicking on the link to the male costume page, I came across this description:
…What? No cross-promotion, or mention of how a single man can't defeat Ebola. Again, I may be nitpicking what is probably poor writing from a company that already demonstrated poor judgment, but the efforts to fight Ebola across the globe cannot be divided by gender. People from all countries, backgrounds, races, and genders are working to address a worldwide problem. If you're looking to add misogyny to your ever-growing list of ways we perceive you, BrandsOnSale, mission accomplished.
3. Share Your Insensitivity with Friends!
“Hey, Facebook friends! You'll never guess what I'm going to be this year.” You are most likely correct; no one WILL guess what you are going to be, most likely because you will have no friends after wearing such a costume. Social sharing is common practice – yes. The primary reason to share this outfit with friends is to have their jaws drop like yours did when you first stumbled upon it. I suppose that BrandsOnSale subscribes to the notion that “there's no such thing as bad publicity.” That statement reminds me of a lesson learned by Kenneth Cole during the Arab Spring in 2011 after he tweeted this:
Insensitive? Yes. Ignorant? You bet. Did it severely damage Kenneth Cole's reputation? Most certainly. Of course, when we are comparing these two situations, we are assuming BrandsOnSale has a reputation in the first place.
4. The Witch, the Ghost, and Now… the Ebola
This costume is, apparently, a top pick for women on the site, as is the men's version in its category. This is likely due to either some terrible item optimization algorithm, programmed to promote frequently-shared items, or another attempt to draw attention to their insensitivity. Either reason is still not very well thought out, and I can guarantee this item was not as popular as the Disney Princess costumes it is listed beside.
5. Disgust Doesn't Come Cheap
$60 for this costume? If they donated half of that to help fight Ebola, they might have been received a bit nobler. And it doesn't even come with the boots!
A conclusion you may be making about this entire situation is that the website did it to draw attention and that, by writing this article, I'm merely giving them what they desire. As it was in the Kenneth Cole fiasco mentioned earlier, their intentions and objective are irrelevant. A bad goal is going to result in a bad response. Cole hoped to turn some heads with his comment, but his shoe sales did not increase alongside the popularity of his tweet. We've all had our exposure to disgraceful costumes every Halloween, a holiday intended for fun and enjoyment like any other. There have been sexy nurses, scantily clad rabbits, terrorists, and many more that we expect to only hear about, then see in real life.
I hope that, down the road, we look towards finding enjoyment beyond shocking our friends and the internet and, instead, look to these issues in our world with the sensitivity they deserve: attention brought about through commitment, not costumes.