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'AITA for dressing up in a 'questionable' group costume per my friend's request?' MAJOR UPDATE

'AITA for dressing up in a 'questionable' group costume per my friend's request?' MAJOR UPDATE

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Who gets to decide if something is offensive? That is the question at the core of a recent internet post.

"AITA for dressing up in a 'questionable' group costume per my friend's request?"

So my best friend for about 7 years, we'll call him Derek, is a little person. He has 3 brothers who are all little people and they are all so comfortable with their lives and love making jokes about their height. I have somewhat of a dark sense of humor but was uncomfortable joining them in the jokes until I really got to know them and they assured me it was okay.

Anyways there was a costume party for our mutual friends birthday where everyone was supposed to be a movie character. Derek and his brothers came to me and asked me if I would be comfortable dressing up as Willy Wonka while they all dressed up as Oompa Loompas. I said sure and we went to the party. We got a few looks, but nobody said anything at the party.

Well this morning I woke up to a bunch of texts calling me a horrible person for doing that and insinuating I made the suggestion for the group costume. No matter what I say in my defense gets blasted back at me as doubling down on my ignorance.

Usually in these cases I ignore it because I try not to let other peoples perceptions of me bother me, but with the amount of people messaging me I'm just kinda overwhelmed. Am I the AH?

Commenters did not hold back one bit.

DinaFelice wrote:

"That's really bizarre. Are you saying that I should have overruled Derek's choice of a group costume because I'm a better arbiter of what is offensive to little people than he is? Are you saying that all roles in movies played by little people are inherently offensive? Which costumes do you think are appropriate for little people to wear?"

"And while we're on the subject, why are you complaining to me instead of Derek? Is it because you don't value his opinion on the situation as much as that of an average height person? There were literally five of us who were part of the group costume, and you've decided to discount the perspectives of four out of the five people?"

NTA. I would encourage you to stop defending the choice of costume, and redirect complainers to the person who actually chose it. They are all being inherently ableist by exclusively complaining to you without even discussing it with the person they suppose is the victim.

For that matter, if they really believe the costume was offensive, then the whole group is equally to blame and they should be raising objections to all five of the participants.

biff_talon wrote:

NTA. I'm assuming you were dressed up like the characters from the 1971 movie? If so, I don't see the problem. It was your friend's idea and he was obviously comfortable with it. Were all the complaints based on that incorrect assumption that it was your idea, or do some of these people think that the costume itself is offensive?

OP responded:

Most of them are accusing me of it being my idea and that I pressured them into it. Only 2 or 3 of the others are saying that in general, the costume is offensive.

FruitPopsicle wrote:

NTA. They are in fact implying that your short friends are not your equals. Do the mutual friends think height makes it easier to trick them???? You are not in a position of power over them and they had equal participation in the costume idea.

I'm autistic and sometimes I notice people infantalizing me and it's disturbing. It makes me feel like I'm not being seen as a human being. A similar thing is happening here with your friends. They probably won't be happy to hear about the jerks trying to "rescue" them when they don't even need help. I'd tell them.

Ebechops wrote:

NTA, it's f#$king genius, and here's what you do: next party you get the same costumes and f#$k em up, make them look like a war has been fought in them, add fake weapons to the Oompa Lumpas etc, and have a rope loosely round your neck for them to lead you around on and fake manacles.

Then you just need an orange flag for one of them to wave that says 'Revolution!' or 'The Lumpas United Will Never Be Defeated'.

Big gag on anyone who thought those guys didn't come up with it on their own or would allow 4 of them to be dominated by you and do something they're not comfortable with. That is unless you're up for drag in which case 100% go Snow White and be going around asking if anyone's seen your other three friends, or Princess Leia and the Ewoks...

JanesConniption wrote:

NTA. I snort-laughed. I’m not a little person but I am physically disabled, and ableds love to infantilize us. They can’t believe we could possibly be self-aware and make jokes about our disability. You’re the one treating Derek and his brothers like normal human beings, while the people harassing you are treating them like children who can’t make their own decisions. They’re the ableists, not you.

Two days later, OP shared an update.

First I would like to make some clarifications since I didn't mention them in the original post. I am a 22M and Derek is 21 and is the 2nd youngest of his brothers. We were specifically dressed from the 1971 movie with Gene Wilder and Derek and his brothers were the only little people at the party.

I had around 30 texts complaining about the costume all of them people I barely know or had only met at the party which had about 150 to 200 people. Out of all those only 3 were just saying Willy Wonka in general is offensive and the rest were accusing me of forcing the idea and wouldn't believe me when I told them it wasn't my idea. Anyways, onto the update.

A couple minutes after I posted the story I got a call from Derek. He said he had received some texts from people from the party regarding the costume, telling him they were messaging me to get me to apologize to him for my ignorance to which he informed them it was his idea. He was then told what happened.

Apparently, his younger brother, we'll call him Ethan, wasn't wanting to be an Oompa Loompa for the party but got roped into the idea by the others before coming to me and had made a passing comment about it during the party. His comment was either taken as all 4 of them were unhappy with the costume or word spread and got twisted into it being my idea. Basically, it was a huge misunderstanding.

Ethan called me a few minutes after I got off the phone with Derek and apologized for getting me in that situation. He told me he had bought a separate costume he was wanting to wear for the party only to be told Derek had already bought 4 Oompa Loompa costumes and couldn't return them. So he figured he'd save the separate costume for Halloween.

He said someone came up and asked him about the costumes and he answered honestly, but didn't think his comment would cause anything especially since the end of his comment reiterated he was having a good time. Derek, Ethan and his brothers have all come to my defense, and while nobody who was sending me demeaning texts has apologized.

They have officially stopped the texts. Anyways, thanks for the support. As I said in the original post I try to ignore people's negative opinions of me, but 30 people was alot and I was just so overwhelmed that I thought maybe I did do something wrong. Glad to know the whole situation was just a mix up.

The internet was fully invested.

StAlvis wrote:

NGL, I think a funnier group costume would be you dressed as a giant Oompa Loompa, and all the brothers dressed as Wonka and the kids.

Agent_Scully9114 wrote:

Why is dressing as Willy Wonka in general offensive?

OP responded:

They said the movies and book are offensive to little people, and by dressing as him, I was showing support for it.

TravelGrrl wrote:

Oompa Loompa doo-pa-dee doo

I've got another puzzle for you!

Oompa Loompa doo-pa-dee dee

If you are wise you'll listen to me! What do you do when your friends are just b#$ches? Fussing and texting like a bunch of snitches? Ignore them and move on with your life. Don't let them get to you with their strife! You will live in happiness too. Like the Oompa Loompa doo-p-dee doo!

DinaFelice wrote:

As I said in my comment on your original post, the people complaining to you are being ableist, and this update only confirms that. Literally none of them could conceive of the idea that a man complaining of being 'forced' to wear a costume could have been 'forced' by another little person, so they just assumed it was your fault.

I'm glad that Derek and Ethan came to your defense and were sufficiently convincing to get the others to stop harassing you, but I think your friend group still has a serious problem. At some point in the future, you may want to point out to some of these people that in their quest to "protect" Derek and his brothers, they were actually extremely infantilizing of them.

It's hard to imagine that if all the people involved in the costume had been average height that these self-styled "protectors" wouldn't have realized that the most likely person to have "forced" Ethan into a costume choice would have been one of his brothers. It seems like they forgot that little people are people first and foremost.

Mad_King832 wrote:

I'm glad Derek and his brothers stood up for you. But I don't get why Derek pressed Ethan into joining when 3 Oompa Loompas would've worked just as fine. If he really couldn't get the refund, you guys could've used the costume at a later point. I don't see why it was a big deal to get you in on the idea.

Prussian_Pride wrote:

Dude. Derek and his brothers sound like a blast to be around. I would have totally done the same as you and went for it. For the next part you should think of more funny things to do just to take the piss. Or as the other guy suggested you being s giant oompa loompa and they are small Willy Wonkas.

Sources: Reddit
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