Mindful Make-believe: “The Gypsy Game” on compassionate cosplay

Spooky Salutations, Postcardians!  Welcome to…

Halloween Month 2019!

Trick or Treaters

Re: this year’s theme.  Rather than Selkies, Sequels, and Second Chances, I’ve decided to focus on Compassionate Cosplay, (Literary) Candy Crushes, and Sinister Selchies (look, there’s a ‘c’ in there!)

  • Today’s post will focus on The Gypsy Game, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (which, incidentally, is both a sequel and a second chance!).  When is it appropriate to make a game and/or costume out of a person/culture/event, and when is it tacky (at best) or a cruel joke (at worst)?
  • The next post will review my favorite fictional sweets from books I’ve discussed here @ Postcards.
  • The final post (assuming I finish The Unkindest Tide on time) will be my 2019 October Report, revealing the deadly depths to which the sea witch is willing to go to resurrect her descendant race — and to which the complicit selkies will go to keep their place in Faerie.

In the meantime…

Gypsy Game alt

I’ve been thinking a lot about mindfulness in the past year (see what I did there?), mainly as an antidote to depression and anxiety.  As I understand it, mindfulness means being aware of what you’re doing, or what’s happening to you, at this moment and why.   For example:  realizing you’re having a panic attack before it gets out of control, accepting that that’s how you feel right now, and figuring out what triggered it so you can prevent future attacks.  Techniques for increasing mindfulness include yoga, meditation, and conscious breathing.

But mindfulness can be applied to any area of life, and can make us healthier social beings as well as individual beings.  For the purposes of this post, I consider social mindfulness to mean awareness of how our actions affect others, or awareness of the history/implications of our actions. 

After reading Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s sequel to The Egypt Game, I’ve decided to explore how I can carry a more mindful attitude into my favorite geek spaces — specifically, the LARP-ing, cosplaying spaces.  And, because it’s Halloween Month, I’m going to focus on mindful costumes (a concept that can also be applied to Ren Faires and Comic Cons).

NOTE:  Lest you think I’m about to fall into the same trap I think The Gypsy Game falls into — i.e. oversimplifying the story’s message — this is more than just a guide to woke-ing up your Halloween costumes.

That said…if you’ve followed the past few Halloween Months here @ Postcards, you know I’m not a fan of costumes that make fun of cultures or identities.  Like Pocahottie costumes, or Speedy-Gonzalez-type get-ups, or transphobic mock-drag outfits.  See Good Housekeeping‘s recent article — “15 Offensive Halloween Costumes That Shouldn’t Exist” — for more ideas on What NOT To Wear (WARNING: some of the images may be NSFW or just generally upsetting).

But what about well-meaning costume ideas that are meant to celebrate a character or culture or concept?  What about the non-Roma person who wants to be a traveling musician or fortune teller?  Or the non-Pakistani person who wants to be Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan?  What if someone who’s not of Polynesian descent wants to dress up as Maui?

Ms Bubblegum Marvel

As Will Smith’s Genie would say, there’s a lot of grey area here.  Just because your intentions are fun and festive doesn’t mean the costume is going to go over well.  On the other hand, we don’t have to completely avoid costumes or games based on characters from other cultures.  For instance, I’m not sure I agree with the Good Housekeeping article on Disney!Maui costumes (more on that later).  And I definitely don’t agree with The Gypsy Game‘s conclusion on…well, on the Gypsy Game itself.

Before we get into my personal Costuming Do’s and Don’ts, though, let’s see where the book stands…

Onward:  The Gypsy Game review


Trick or Treat clip-art from clipartwiki.


  1. I try to be aware of other cultures and such when I dress up, and when you presented a link to costumes that should be banned, I had to click it. My neck hurts from all the head-shakings-of-disbelief that reading it caused. For those curious to know, the first costume they discuss is a holocaust victim costume that was designed for a child.

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