On Oct. 27, days before Halloween, one of the most offensive Halloween costumes has re-emerged despite being pulled from the shelves in 2011. The 'skeletal' costume, Anna Rexia, that openly mocks eating disorders and demeans the seriousness of anorexia, faced incredible backlash when it was released in stores two years ago. After considerable controversy, the stores selling the costume were forced to permanently desist selling it.
Not only is the costume alone disturbing with its black dress outlining a skeleton and a tape measure hanging as a belt around the waist, but the tagline "you can never be too rich or too thin" brings the danger of the costume home. Aside from mocking and belittling a potentially fatal disease, this costume reinforces societal expectations that the thin ideal is worth striving for.
The company responsible for manufacturing this costume, Dreamgirls International, previously made the following statement amid the controversy:
"We understand that some people will not find the dark humor funny,” said Alicia Brockwell, Dreamgirl’s director of marketing. “Or that they are sensitive to the topic it addresses. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings and would never want to cause harm to anyone. Dreamgirl is a company run by women for women. Halloween is an eccentric and irreverent holiday for people to express themselves in a myriad of ways. While some people may not like a particular costume - it is a matter of taste and personal discretion."
However, the costume is back and featured on an online costume site still under construction. Dreamgirls has been contacted, but state that they have not continued to produce the costume after the 2011 backlash. One site suggests the possibility that a prankster put this costume up to reignite the controversy.
Regardless of how or why this costume has re-emerged in the cyber world, it demonstrates the prevalent stigma and misunderstanding of the severity of eating disorders. Creating or buying a costume that openly mocks these disorders reflects societal ignorance that must be changed before stigma towards eating disorders can be eradicated.