Thanksgiving Masks with a Heaping Serving of Racism
But it appears these late 1800s and early 1900s masks weren’t just funny faces and animals. Today, mask manufacturers understand the problematic nature of making masks and costumes that take racial stereotypes and turn it into a Halloween costume. This has been the subject of debate for decades. But in the period of Thanksgiving masking, depicting “styles of faces characteristic of every nation of the earth, with greatly exaggerated facial peculiarities” was commonplace. Early manufactured, mass produced costumes made their way into the marketplace by 1910. This wasn’t limited to masks; it wasn’t considered shocking to paint someone’s face to portray another culture, as seen in the picture above. Today it is considered shocking and wrong, but in the late 1800s, it was nothing out of the social norm.