The Most Controversial Celebrity Halloween Costumes

Halloween is all tricks and treats until someone dresses up in blackface — sorry, Julianne Hough, but it's never going to be okay. Though it may seem like common sense to simply skip out on the more politically incorrect get-ups, some well-meaning celebs have us facepalming over their controversial costumes. Come on, don't we know by now that wearing a native American headdress when you're not native American is cultural appropriation? Are we just going to ignore the stuff that went down at the Dakota Access pipeline, Hilary Duff?

Whether it's something as innocent as some sugar skull makeup or something as obviously button-pushing as a Halloween homage to Osama bin Laden, these celebs totally drummed up Halloween controversy. That doesn't mean we can't learn from our mistakes. Even Colton Haynes — a three-time blackface offender — has offered up a heartfelt apology, but if you're waiting around for Chris Brown to say sorry, you're probably going to be waiting forever.

These are the most controversial celebrity Halloween costumes.

Orange is the new blackface

In 2013, Netflix graced us with Orange Is the New Black. Uzo Aduba's character, Crazy Eyes, was a fan favorite, and the star's multi-faceted portrayal garnered her an Emmy. Needless to say, her TV character was also a pretty popular Halloween costume, along with the rest of the Litchfield inmates.

Julianne Hough drummed up a whole lot of controversy when she dressed as Crazy Eyes as part of an OITNB-themed group costume. According to People, the porcelain-skinned star took it way too far by donning blackface with her orange prison jumpsuit. It was so shocking that actress Isla Fisher allegedly told Hough to "go to the bathroom and wipe her face off," reported Us Weekly (though her reps denied she stepped-in.) If anyone did try to intervene, they obviously didn't get to Hough before her picture was snapped. 

The star later issued a public apology. "I am a huge fan of the show Orange Is the New Black, actress Uzo Aduba, and the character she has created," Hough tweeted. "It certainly was never my intention to be disrespectful or demeaning to anyone in any way. I realize my costume hurt and offended people and I truly apologize."

This costume was dead on arrival

Ashley Tisdale caused some controversy when she donned a Day of the Dead-inspired look for Vanessa Hudgens' 2016 Halloween party. One Instagram post later, and a full-fledged Insta-storm was in the works. Fans slammed the look as "racist and offensive," while the star's husband, who's half Mexican, supposedly defended his wife. Unfortunately, the damage was done.

Day of the Dead (or Día de los Muertos) and Halloween are not one in the same. According to Refinery29, the Mexican celebration is meant to honor deceased relatives. During the event, families set up shrines for deceased loved ones, many of which are decorated with calaveras (the brightly-painted skulls that are sometimes made into a sugary candy commonly known as sugar skulls.) Calaveras and — more specifically — the "grand dame of death" La Catrina, have become popular, albeit controversial, Halloween costumes. According to a religious studies university professor who spoke to Refinery29, La Catrina was created "as a satirical figure to mock the Eurocentric Mexican elite, whose policies were resulting in hunger and starvation for 90% of the Mexican populace."

Bottom line: Cultural appropriation is never a good look. 

Hilary Duff chose the worst year to dress as a sexy pilgrim

We don't normally align Lizzie McGuire with controversy. Hilary Duff has managed to keep a squeaky-clean image even after transitioning out of Disney stardom (The same can't be said for some of the Disney stars that came after her. Ahem, Hannah Montana). That's what makes Duff's 2016 Halloween costume choice even more shocking.

Duff was met with a ton of criticism after showing up to a Halloween party as a sexy pilgrim alongside her then-boyfriend Jason Walsh, who was dressed as a native American "chief." As The Huffington Post reported, the costume was particularly tone deaf amidst the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. As soon as pictures surfaced, social media erupted with complaints.

"So is Hilary Duff and her [boyfriend] gonna protest that pipeline affected [sic] native Americans or ?" wrote one Twitter user, while another claimed the star was "insensitive and ignorant."

Duff eventually apologized for her costume in a tweet. "I am SO sorry to people I offended with my costume. It was not properly thought through and I am truly, from the bottom of my [emoji heart] sorry."

The goddess of destruction should obliterate this costume

Heidi Klum has been slaying Halloween almost as long as she's been slaying the runway. The starlet has a habit of going all-out for her annual Halloween bash, which according to Glamour, has been going strong since 2000. Between her freaky forbidden fruit costume (2006) and her creepy, hyper-realistic crow get-up (2009), the star unfortunately chose a look that was a little tone-deaf.

In 2008, Klum dressed up as Kali, the Hindu goddess of destruction. She painted her entire body blue, donned a flowing black wig, and had a belt made of severed heads and hands. It was quite the sight — the kind that offended those who practiced the religion.

According to Gawker, Hindu-American leaders demanded an apology from the star. Rajan Zed, an Indo-American statesman, claimed the Goddess was "meant to be worshiped in temples and not to be used in clubs for publicity stunts..."

Klum claimed her assistant thought of the costume, and she gave it the go-ahead after a Google search. "I loved it because she's so mean and killed all these different people and [had] fingers hanging off [her] and little shrunken heads everywhere," the star told reporters (via Gawker). C'mon, Heidi. Couldn't you have just gone as a witch, again? 

Chris Brown: 'get over it' (and other choice words)

It's hardly shocking that Chris Brown offended someone. The only question is: What did he do this time? By 2012, we already knew the star's general demeanor and penchant for causing trouble. As People reports, he was charged with felony assault and making criminal threats in 2009, after a scuffle with Rihanna. In 2011, he had a commercial break blow-out at Good Morning America. In 2012, he was involved in an NYC nightclub brawl. Then, he showed up to Rihanna's Halloween party dressed up as his interpretation of an Arab terrorist.

Fans who were outraged (and probably pretty tired by now if they waste energy being outraged by Brown) didn't get the rare Chris Brown apology tour. Instead, he gave an interview to L.A.'s Power 106 (via Fuse), lobbing profanities and telling everyone to "get over it."

"It's f***ing Halloween! It's a motherf***ing pagan holiday! We dress our kids up as satans, demons, little goblins and all this other s**t. Get over it, people! I was dressed as the people we killed... Bin Laden! And everybody who really mad about it: f**k y'all," he said.

An unfortunate royal affair

Prince Harry may have ditched his party boy ways in recent years, but there was a time when the star was regularly embroiled in controversy — and who doesn't love a good royal scandal? Well, maybe when Nazis aren't involved.

Though The Guardian reports that Brits don't generally go as wild for Halloween as Americans, Harry still had time to dress up in an offensive costume for a "colonials and natives" costume party (Hilary Duff is still waiting for her invite). According to Time, a photo of Harry wearing a swastika armband and uniform similar to those worn by the German Afrika Korps graced the cover of a 2005 issue of The Sun. Of course, outrage ensued, because wearing a Nazi armband is never not going to be offensive.

The New York Times published Harry's apology. He claimed he was "very sorry if I caused any offense or embarrassment to anyone. It was a poor choice of costume and I apologize."

Ellie Goulding let Instagram burn, burn, burn over this one

Ellie Goulding may have dominated air waves with her 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack song, but cultural appropriation is anything but sexy. The British singer was slammed for wearing a native American Halloween costume in 2014 — but was it her actual costume?

Goulding posted a since-deleted social media snap donning a large native American-inspired headdress with a fringed top and skirt, according to The Mirror. The star apparently received an onslaught of criticism, with some Twitter users accusing her of being "racist." 

The curious part of Goulding's whole squabble is that she claimed it wasn't her Halloween costume, even though she posted it right around Halloween. The singer apparently planned to dress up as British kids' show icon Mr. Blobby. Maybe she was just trying out alternatives and decided against this culturally insensitive look? Either way, the star responded to the criticism on Twitter and made plans to donate to a native American charity, reported Us Weekly.

"I wore that beautiful unauthentic headpiece for about 5 minutes. I havnt [sic] worn my costume for Halloween yet," she tweeted.

The third time is not the charm

Colton Haynes has a Heidi Klum-level love for elaborate Halloween costumes. His Miss Piggy get-up was disturbingly anatomical, and his Marge Simpson look took five hours to complete, according to Us Weekly. It's unfortunate that the star decided to wear blackface — not once — but on three occasions. Couldn't he have stuck to cartoon characters?

According to Teen Vogue, Haynes dressed as Kanye West for Halloween in 2011. He wore full blackface and even went as far as painting his hands a darker hue. The following year, he dressed up as Gandhi and painted his skin darker yet again. This appears to be a trend for the star, who also donned blackface for a My Chemical Romance music video in 2009.

Haynes has since apologized for his controversial costumes in a video chat. "I've gotten in trouble for a few of my costumes in the past, and I wasn't aware I was offending people, but that wasn't my intention at all," he said. "...That won't be happening again."

Lord Disick's royal mistake is anything but chic

The Kardashians aren't immune when it comes to controversial Halloween costumes. The stars live under a paparazzi microscope and pretty much live-stream their lives via Snapchat and Instagram. Not to mention, they have cameras filming nearly every second of their existence for Keeping up with the Kardashians and its various spin-offs, so it was only a matter of time.

Scott Disick broke the Halloween scandal seal when he dressed as an Arab sheikh. How many times do we have to say it — someone else's culture is not an appropriate Halloween costume. Disick debuted the outfit in an Instagram post with the caption: "Happy Halloween! We getting Arab money tonight." According to BuzzFeed, that was probably a reference to a Busta Rhymes song. Khloe Kardashian also showcased Disick's misguided look in a post captioned: "Sheik Pussy," referencing her cat costume.

The costumes were later used as a storyline on Keeping up with the Kardashians. According to the Observer, Khloe laments over the fact that she got a whole lot of hate for her post, while Disick's was praised by fans. Go figure. Either way, it's still offensive.

Kylie Jenner's sexy Eskimo costume was ice cold

Once Scott Disick got the ball rolling, more Kardashians followed suit. In 2015, Kylie Jenner made headlines when she dressed as a sexy Eskimo. According to The Huffington Post, the term "Eskimo" is typically considered a slur. Let's remember that Inuit and Alaskan natives are actual people, as far removed as they may be from Kardashi-wood.

Jenner was still a teenager when she posted a video donning Khaleesi-level blonde hair and a fuzzy white hood with the caption "Eskimo." She later switched up the caption to "Snow Princess" in a separate Instagram post that included fancy, white cars. Let's go with that one, instead.

Though Jenner was slammed for her costume, she did have one supporter — Alaskan reality star Bristol Palin. Palin penned a letter to Kardashian, saying she is "part Yup'ik" (a group indigenous to Alaska) and "not offended."

P.S. Two years later, Kim Kardashian made headlines — and subsequently apologized — for dressing up as Aaliyah, the deceased R&B icon.

Ashley Benson's lion suit caused an uproar

The death of Cecil the lion, one of Zimbabwe's most famous big cats, was a huge loss for wildlife preservationists everywhere. Walter Palmer, an American dentist, allegedly paid $55,000 to kill the 13-year-old male lion, who was living at the protected Hwange National Park. According to the Telegraph, the collar-clad lion may have been lured away from the safety of the park. He was reportedly shot with a bow and arrow, and the next day, the wounded big cat was killed, beheaded, and skinned.

As hard as that is to read, it's even harder to imagine making light of the situation with a Halloween costume. Unfortunately, Pretty Little Liars star Ashley Benson decided to dress as the beloved lion and cause an online uproar in 2015.

Benson posted a snap of herself in the gold costume by Yandy. According to E! News, she wrote, "Help! Can't decide on my Halloween costume this year! What do you guys think of this Cecil the Lion costume?" Users were quick to slam the star for the insensitive get-up. She reportedly edited "Cecil" out of the caption.

Benson later apologized. "Yesterday's post was in poor taste and I absolutely regret all of the hurt that photo caused... " she wrote (via Page Six), partly blaming her management for allegedly posting the "incorrect caption." Benson also vowed to make a donation to the World Wildlife Fund.

Shaun White's costume was more ill-advised than a Zoolander gasoline fight

It's probably safe to say that dressing up as a disabled person is never not going to be offensive. But that didn't stop Olympic snowboarder Shaun White from dressing up as Simple Jack, a mentally challenged character played by Ben Stiller's Tugg Speedman in Tropic Thunder — even ten years after the character was met with criticism and protests from disabilities groups. 

For those unfamiliar, Simple Jack is called the r-word throughout Tropic Thunder. What a great idea for a costume, right? Needless to say, White faced an onslaught of criticism from his Instagram followers and was slammed by the Special Olympics. In a statement to TMZ, a representative from the Special Olympics said, "We are truly disappointed that Shaun White, an acclaimed Olympian, would choose this costume which is so offensive and causes so much pain. ... Disability is not a joke, nor should it be a punchline."

White eventually apologized and claimed that dressing up as Simple Jack "was a last minute decision" and that it was "the wrong one."

"The Special Olympics were right to call me out on it," he wrote on Twitter. "They do great work supporting so many tremendous athletes and I am sorry for being insensitive. Lesson learned."

Next year, maybe go as Zoolander? 

Polynesia is a long way from the Jersey Shore

Most little girls dream of being Disney princesses, but Entertainment Tonight reports that Jersey Shore's Jenni "JWoww" Farley was actually surprising her son Greyson with her family's Moana Halloween costumes. The Disney flick is reportedly his absolute favorite. But their costumes didn't come without scandal.

Since the film's release, costumes based on the characters from Moana have been considered controversial. According to Cafe Mom, the Disney princess and her sidekick Maui wear traditional Polynesian outfits. This has led some people to believe that dressing up as anyone from Moana is cultural appropriation. People reports that Disney even "pulled a Maui costume after customers deemed it racist" and issued an apology in 2016. Like Disney, Farley and her estranged husband, Rodger Mathews, were slammed for their costumes with commenters saying, "Way to appropriate someone's culture" (via Cafe Mom). Others urged people to "stop trying" to make the costume "a race thing."

There is at least one person who wasn't offended, though: Auli'i Cravalho, the Hawaiian-born actress behind Moana. According to IRL-Moana, dressing up as your favorite Disney character is a-okay. "I think it's absolutely appropriate," she told People. "It's done in the spirit of love and for Disney and for the little ones who just want to dress up as their favorite heroine, I'm all for it."