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Anna Rexia costume: What Halloween is all about

September 30, 2011 |  2:44 pm

Anna RexiaIt's hard to imagine who would even think of buying an Anna Rexia Halloween costume if the silly notion hadn't become so controversial.

The costume, which makes fun of the eating disorder -- whose victims endanger health and life by shunning food -- isn't exactly laden with cleverness. It's a short, form-fitting black dress with images of some bones on it. It comes with a tape measure for the waist and a bone for the hair. Most people would think it was a skanky skeleton costume.

As Times writer Jenn Harris reported Friday, the National Eating Disorders Assn. is horrified.

"It's disgusting that people have a costume about a potentially life-threatening illness," said Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of the organization. "It's like a costume about people with malignant tumors. The designers of this costume should see an 8-year-old girl on a feeding tube."

Eating disorders are horrible indeed. They are not funny. But then, neither is death, and Halloween is all about death; it originated from the belief that the souls of the newly dead would return to inhabit the bodies of the living. Bonfires and grotesque costumes were supposed to keep the dead away. The jack o'lantern  is said to represent the story of a dead man caught in Purgatory with only an ember in a hollowed-out turnip to light his way.

In other words, playful parties and angel costumes notwithstanding, Halloween is the time we allow ourselves to dip into the dark side and make fun of it at the same time.

The bonfires are gone; they were big air polluters anyway. The jack o'lanterns moved to roomier and more colorful pumpkins. And what we have left are sometimes grotesque and, yes, tasteless costumes. Often we mock what we most fear. These costumes represent the dark night of the soul, and anorexia certainly qualifies as that.


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 Photo: The Anna Rexia costume listed on the supermodelboutique.com website. Credit: Supermodelboutique.com

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