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Ashley Benson/Instagram; Joe Corrigan/Getty Images; Ashley Tisdale/Instagram
Celebrity Halloween costumes can be creating and entertaining.
But sometimes they're just really racist.
Heidi Klum, Kylie Jenner, Scott Disick, and OJ Simpson are among the celebrities who have had very, very bad Halloween costumes.
The worst celebrity costumes tend to be the ones that spark outrage for their cultural insensitivity. Bizarrely, this isn't limited to Halloween. Macklemore once dressed up as a Nazi caricature of Jews in May 2014, declined to apologize for it, and then deleted his statement that wasn't an apology.
But because a lot of people dress up in costumes for Halloween, this type of thing tends to happen around the end of October.
Too often, we'll see celebrities dress up in blackface, as caricatures of other cultural figures, or wear a costume that's supposed to be some kind of witty commentary on a recent horrific event. They're all really bad ideas.
Here are 18 celebrities who dressed up in the most outrageous costumes.
Julianne Hough's blackface for her "Crazy Eyes" costume was one of the most derided in years.
For her 2013 costume, the "Dancing with the Stars" champion went as "Orange Is the New Black" character Crazy Eyes.
There's a history of blackface in the US, wherein white actors don black makeup in order to portray black stereotypes. There's also a history of discrimination against African-Americans in the country's movie, television, and theater industries. Taken together, Hough's costume was in really, really bad taste.
"It certainly was never my intention to be disrespectful or demeaning to anyone in any way," Hough said shortly after the Halloween party. "I realize my costume hurt and offended people and I truly apologize."
Hough is far from the only celebrity to wear blackface as part of a Halloween costume. "American Horror Story" actor Colton Haynes dressed up as Kanye West in 2011. The following year, he darkened his skin again for a Gandhi costume. Country singer Jason Aldean once went as Lil Wayne. And designer Alessandro Dell'Acqua went as... well, it's not clear, but she used blackface in her 2016 costume.
Snowboarder Shaun White dressed up as a caricature of people with disabilities.
Shaun White/Instagram via HuffPost
In October 2108, Shaun White dressed up as "Simple Jack," a character played by Ben Stiller in "Tropic Thunder." In the movie, the character iss used to make fun of the movie industry's tendency to turn the lives of people with disabilities into "Oscar bait," although disability advocates found the portrayal shallow.
A spokesperson for the Special Olympics, as well as fans of White, criticized him for the costume after he posted a photo of it on Instagram. White ultimately issued an apology.
"I owe everyone in the Special Olympics community an apology for my poor choice of Halloween costume the other night," he said in an Instagram post Tuesday. "It was a last minute decision. It was the wrong one."
White said the Special Olympics, which also criticized "Tropic Thunder" in 2008, was right to criticize him.
"The Special Olympics were right to call me out on it," he said. "They do great work supporting so many tremendous athletes and I am sorry for being insensitive. Lesson learned."
In 2012, Chris Brown dressed up as a "terrorist."
Ultrawig / Splash News
In a now-deleted post on Instagram, Brown posted a photo of himself and friends dressed in turbans with fake beards. "Ain't nobody F---ing wit my clique!" he wrote in the caption.
"Someone take him to a little house way out in the country and give him some food and water and just leave him there," The Atlantic wrote. "Because he's simply too aggravating to be out here with the rest of us."
Heidi Klum angered a lot of Hindu leaders when she dressed up as the goddess Kali.
Klum is renown for putting a lot of effort into her Halloween costumes, but that's not always a good thing. Her 2008 costume was Hindu goddess Kali.
Hindu and Indian-American leaders were incensed.
"Goddess Kali is highly revered in Hinduism and she is meant to be worshipped in temples and not to be used in clubs for publicity stunts or thrown around loosely for dramatic effect," said Hindu cleric Rajan Zed.
Hillary Duff and her then-boyfriend athlete Jason Walsh dressed up as a pilgrim and Native American stereotype.
Michael Kovac/Getty Images
Duff and Walsh donned the costumes in 2016, at the same time that Native Americans were protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, which is planned to go through sacred Native American grounds.
"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 [heart] sorry," Duff tweeted.
Duff and Walsh aren't the only ones to go with that costume style on Halloween. Paris and Nicky Hilton have also gotten in trouble for dressing up as stereotypical Native Americans, in different years,
"Pretty Little Liars" actress Ashley Benson dressed up as a sexy version of a beloved and recently-murdered lion.
The year 2015 was a tough year for animal lovers, with the deaths of both Harambe the Gorilla and Cecil the Lion. Benson went ahead and barreled along anyway with a "sexy Cecil the Lion" costume.
"Help! Can't decide on my Halloween costume this year! What do you guys think of this Cecil the Lion costume?," she posted on Instagram.
Later, she revised the post to remove Cecil's name.
"Yesterday's post was in poor taste and I absolutely regret all of the hurt that photo caused," she posted the next day. "The caption that was posted was incorrect and my costume was not Cecil the Lion, when I saw that, I contacted my management who handled the post and had it immediately changed."
As it turned out, it was meant to be an advertisement for Yandy's "Sexy Cecil the Lion costume," since renamed "Sexy Lion Costume." Benson said she would donate the money she made from the Yandy deal to the World Wildlife Fund.
Kylie Jenner went in a quasi-Native American costume.
"Eskimo" is how she captioned a costume for 2015. She later changed the caption for one of the photos on Instagram to "Snow Princess." The term Eskimo is often considered a slur for Native American and First Nation people from northern regions.
Jeff Ross dressed as Joe Paterno, flanked by two shirtless football players wearing towels on their waists.
Christopher Polk/Getty Images
This one happened a little before October. For the 2012 Comedy Central "roast" of Roseanne Barr, comedian Jeffrey Ross came dressed as the deceased Penn State football coach, who a year earlier scandalized America with a child sex abuse scandal.
Scott Disick dressed up as an Arab sheikh with the caption, "We getting Arab money tonight."
Harry Hamlin wore a swastika on a T-shirt for a Halloween costume.
Wearing a Nazi symbol is never a good idea, as Prince Harry knows.
Actor Harry Hamlin wore a swastika on a red T-shirt in his 2015 costume as Sid Vicious. His wife, Lisa Rinna, was dressed as Nancy Spungen.
Vicious sometimes wore a swastika to shock people and to attempt to transform the meaning of the symbol.
"If I hurt you, we were being authentic to the characters of Sid and Nancy for our Halloween costumes," Rinna and Hamlin later wrote on Instagram. "It hurt and angered many of you and we are deeply sorry for that. That was never our intention. We did not mean to offend. With love, Lisa and Harry."
Chrissy Teigen was criticized for dressing up as a Native American in 2008.
Her now-husband John Legend was a cowboy, implying a "cowboys and Indians" theme.
Tia Mowry wore makeup to lighten her skin and look like a geisha.
Her outfit as a traditional Japanese entertainer got its share of criticism on social media.
Ashley Tisdale was accused of sexualizing an image Mexicans traditionally use to honor dead relatives
For last year's Halloween, Tisdale wore face makeup and an outfit that's reminiscent of a decorated skull for Día de los Muertos. The "Day of the Dead" is a Mexican celebration that honors deceased relatives. It's held near Halloween each year. Some of the commenters on her Instagram photo of the costume were mad about it, particularly since it appeared to sexualize the holiday.
The skull image, also known as La Catrina, was originally meant to mock the elite whose political policies "were resulting in hunger and starvation for 90% of the Mexican populace," Virginia Commonwealth University professor of religious studies Andrew Chestnut told Refinery29.
"The skeleton is the representation of the death of the policies this dictatorship was having in Mexico," he said.
La Catrina may be creepy to people who aren't familiar with it, but that doesn't mean it makes sense for Halloween.
OJ Simpson wore a gynecologist costume in 2018.
Jason Bean/The Reno Gazette-Journal via Associated Press
The former football player — who said he was "giving free exams" — is most famous for being charged with abusing and murdering his wife. (Although, he was acquitted of those charges.)
The Chainsmokers dressed up as "Ebrola" in the middle of the Ebola epidemic that killed thousands of people.
In 2014, the Chainsmokers — EDM duo Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall — performed at Binghamton University, and later performed a private set at an off-campus fraternity. The theme was "Ebrola," a bro-ish take on the ebola epidemic in West Africa that had killed more than 5,000 people at that point in the year. They dressed up in hazmat suits and mustaches, as if they were health workers, and were roundly criticized in the local press.