Open Thread: the Anna Rexia costume

The Anna Rexia costume is no longer made by its manufacturer, Dreamgirl, a company “run by women for women“, but it’s still being sold online, and some stores can’t keep up with the demand (while others have stopped carrying it). The linked article talks about how it’s just not funny; anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

Discuss!

Comments

  1. Casey says

    Aw man, I remember seeing that in Spencer’s Gifts at the mall for the first time a few years ago…all I can say about it right now (as I just got back from school at 9pm and I’m tired) is that it’s tasteless as hell.

  2. Casey says

    Oh yeah, I’d also like to add that the model being obviously LOLPHOTOSHOPPED to be as impossibly acceptably thin AND curvy as possible just contributes to the problem.

  3. Ida says

    The point is to make fun of anorexics and call them “shallow,” then two minutes later disgrace and bully fat people.

  4. Dom Camus says

    What exactly is the point of such a costume?

    Leaving aside the incredibly poorly chosen name, the actual costume is something I can easily see being popular. Nothing to do with eating disorders – it’s just a halloween fancy dress thing. Or at least I’d have assumed as much had I just seen someone wearing it with no context.

  5. says

    Grim humor is okay. If you understand anorexia as a deadly disease and find this funny, then you probably also would find a “Dying of Cancer” costume funny, and that’s just your sense of humor, not social commentary, so that’s fine.

    The problem is, I don’t think many people understand anorexia as a deadly disease, so I suspect this costume is most often taken as a legitimate joke about stupid people making stupid choices. Anorexia isn’t a choice. It’s not like, say, claiming 75 dependents your income tax and then being surprised when auditors show up. But I have a feeling it’s being laughed at in much the same way – “what a fool!”

    And if someone were dying of cancer, you wouldn’t chuckle and say “What a fool!” even if you did find the idea of a costume about it grimly humorous.

    There’s also another problem, and that’s that this costume is cute and sexy. Anorexia is neither of those things, but it’s hard to tell that from the way a number of successful models and actresses have actually been anorexic. The costume sends more wrong signals out into the morass of dangerously mixed signals people are already getting about women’s bodies never being “too thin.”

    I do agree with Don that the costume could be cute without the rulers – just a skeleton with a heart or whatever. The rulers are what definitely take it into “statement on anorexia” territory, and that’s just not a place anyone should be going in public, with a public as confused as ours.

  6. sbg says

    Jennifer Kesler:
    The problem is, I don’t think many people understand anorexia as a deadly disease, so I suspect this costume is most often taken as a legitimate joke about stupid people making stupid choices. Anorexia isn’t a choice. It’s not like, say, claiming 75 dependents your income tax and then being surprised when auditors show up. But I have a feeling it’s being laughed at in much the same way – “what a fool!”

    Considering the number of people whose first response is: quit whining and go eat a candy bar, I’d say the understanding is not there. It’s the same thing as telling a fat person to get off the couch and lay off the potato chips (to which I always want to scream, “I walked four miles today, did 20 minutes of elliptical, lifted weights and did yoga, you asshole.”), except for possibly worse because I suspect there’s a smidge of “you should be so lucky to fit the unrealistic social weight requirement for women” unsympathetic sarcasm tossed in.

    I mean, do these people not understand that reducing calories to the extreme fucks with your brain’s chemistry, and once that happens – it is not a choice. Some people can skip a few meals here and there with no worries; some cannot. It’s not terribly different from addictive substances.

    Never mind the constant “you’re not thin enough, wait, you’re too thin eat something” messages which are so completely disparate how is a young girl supposed to know what to do? She can’t win, no matter what.

    Anyway, I find the costume gross and inappropriate.

  7. says

    sbg: It’s the same thing as telling a fat person to get off the couch and lay off the potato chips (to which I always want to scream, “I walked four miles today, did 20 minutes of elliptical. lifted weights and did yoga, you asshole.”)

    Oh yeah. Not to mention the shit I get from relatives and even a doctor (whom I never visited again) that being fat is proof I did not do those things. Or at least, that I haven’t been doing them for very long.

    And I think the messages we as a society get about anorexia and other too-thin people are the flip side of the “fat is automatically unhealthy” meme: it logically follows that thin is automatically healthy. And I don’t think most people can really get their heads around the idea that you can die from being underweight. How can you, with supermodels and photoshop and the diet industry. Someone with anorexia might not look all that different, at least not until the final stages.

    I found this quote from the marketing director of the company disingenuous: “it is a matter of taste and personal discretion”. Because I really, really hate it when companies try to pawn off responsibility onto their consumers. That excuse doesn’t hold water: there’s a demand for all kinds of disturbing shit. The difference is where you draw the line. (Granted, as Jennifer points out, the costume is not automatically callous. But that particular excuse is riddled with holes.)

  8. says

    Sorry for the double post, it just occurred to me: I have seen a “Dying of Lung Cancer” costume, with an oxygen tube around the throat and a fake cigarette in your hand. Like the Anna Rexia costume, though, this one is making fun of people with an addiction for not having the willpower to stop before it kills them. It’s not as much dark humor as it is asshole humor, because many addictions can’t be cured with pure willpower.

  9. says

    Sylvia Sybil,

    Ah, right, I forgot certain cancers can be “your fault.” Never mind that smoking isn’t the only cause of lung cancer. Never mind that most smokers started when they were too young to comprehend what addiction would be like. Never mind that addiction is more than an issue of willpower. Hell, having breasts could be viewed as the cause of breast cancer, so if you don’t get a double mastectomy at age 11, you were just asking for it. /refresher course in asshole logic

  10. Patrick McGraw says

    Telling someone with anorexia to “eat a sandwich” is no different than telling someone with clinical depression to “cheer up.” It’s privileged, unsympathetic behavior that society will rarely call one on.

    I think Hollywood attitudes toward weight (mainly for women obviously) are defined well by tvtropes under Hollywood Pudgy and Hollywood Thin.

    WARNING: TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Life.

  11. The Other Anne says

    Patrick McGraw,

    Too late. Already clicked.

    Jennifer Kesler,

    Yes, age 11 mastectomies for all human beings, just in case! While we’re at it lets remove everyone’s lungs, livers, pancreas, and colons! Honestly the only way to not get cancer is to die before you get cancer.

  12. igglanova says

    Who the hell would even wear this? I wouldn’t be able to guess what the joke is if I didn’t know, because she just looks like a generic Sexy(TM) Skeleton with a measuring tape. :/

    People as a whole are incredibly naive about mental illness. It is very easy to believe that you have much more control over your life and choices than you actually do if you have never been mentally ill. Hence, the ridicule directed at people for making ‘stupid choices.’ Good choices that were outside your control remain invisible, so you will come to believe in some vain notion of your superior willpower. You’d think that common experimentation with consciousness-altering drugs or alcohol would be enough to shatter that assumption of total control, but hey, people can compartmentalize the hell out of their beliefs when the implications are as scary as the notion that your behaviour is shaped by powerful forces outside yourself.

    All this is just a rambly way of saying that people with such a piss-poor understanding of human behaviour need to STFU and grow some humility before making such snide jokes at the expense of others.

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