anna rexia: just in time for halloween!

Ricky’s NYC, a super-shop for everything beauty, opened their annual super-shop for everything Halloween and it is undeniably clear that Halloween is around the corner! We all can’t wait to see the Village Halloween Parade, as well as all of the incredible costumes.

However, a costume in the poorest of taste, at least in my opinion, is the Anna Rexia costume that seems to find its way to the streets of New York every year.

While the costume has been removed from many stores, the costume remains available through other online retailers. The product description: “You can never be too rich or too thin. Knit dress with glitter screenprint. Includes headband, choker neckband, removable “Anna Rexia” badge and ribbon tie belt.” The “choker neckband and ribbon tie belt” look like a yellow measuring tape.

This seems to be both a mockery and a celebration of a serious, life-threatening disorder that is becoming more ubiquitous as the years roll on. Eating disorders do not discriminate and stretch further and further across racial, gender, socioeconomic, etc. lines. They also carry the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

Is this something that we should be mocking? celebrating? What message does this send to the men and women are who are suffering? That a little bit of anorexia is okay but don’t get too sick? What do you think about this?

About Jodi Rubin, ACSW, LCSW, CEDS

Jodi graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from SUNY at New Paltz and earned her Master’s degree in Social Work from New York University. In addition to over a decade of work as an LCSW and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist with individuals, families and groups in her private practice, Jodi is a NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) Certified Personal Trainer and created Destructively Fit®, a training that addresses eating disorders within the fitness industry. She is a former director of Day Treatment at The Renfrew Center for Eating Disorders and a founding member of Metropolitan Psychotherapy and Family Counseling Practice. Jodi also specializes in infertility and has served on the Clinical Advisory Board of Seleni Institute since its inception. Jodi is the creator of a curriculum on eating disorders for the Graduate School of Social Work at New York University and has been teaching this course, as well as guest lecturing in the NYU Post-Master’s Program, since 2007. Jodi actively lectures and teaches students, families and professionals throughout the metropolitan area about the etiology, prevention, treatment, assessment and work with eating disorders. Through psychotherapy and supportive work with adolescents, adults and families, Jodi works to create a secure sense of self, increased self-esteem and a healthy relationship with self and others. She works with an eclectic person-centered approach and tailors her practice techniques to the unique needs of each individual. Please feel free to contact Jodi directly in her Greenwich Village office, 212.529.5811. View all posts by Jodi Rubin, ACSW, LCSW, CEDS

6 responses to “anna rexia: just in time for halloween!

  • Scarlett

    I’ve seen this for a few years now, and honestly, I have a hard time being offended by it. It’s a joke, and I’ve learned to laugh at ED-related jokes. What’s much more offensive to me is when people mispresent or disregard anorexia and bulimia in a NON-joking context (people who claim to have had an ED because they dieted for a week; people stating that someone is “anorexic” simply because she’s thin). No one will actually think this costume is a valid portrayal of an eating disorder, but misinformation in a serious context can and does perpetuate the stereotypes and misunderstandings. As someone living with AN and BN for over a decade, I like to be able to laugh at myself sometimes, and choose my battles. 🙂

  • Kym

    It’s not really funny. Eating disorders are a disease. It’s not like someone would come dress as “Chemo Kate” with hair falling out and an IV in her arm. People would find that tasteless and offensive. How is this any different?

  • Jodi Rubin, ACSW, LCSW

    Just a note to say that eating disorders are not diseases, but disorders. They are actually adaptive (though extraordinarily destructive) strategies that men and women have used to cope, numb out, distract and manage what they take in and what they keep out, e.g.: people, emotions, food, etc.

    That said, Kym, your point is well made. I, too, find this tasteless, offensive and a dangerous minimization of an internal struggle that shatters lives and has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

  • Marissa

    One of my main concerns with this image is that people suffering from eating disorders often participate in joking about eating disorders and this joking attitude further enmeshes the illness with the individual’s identity. When broader society jokes about eating disorders in ways that kind of celebrate them, the identity associated with having an eating disorder becomes cool – the identity becomes legitimized and reinforced as having positive aspects. One of my greatest issues in recovery was relinquishing my anorexic identity, and part of that identity consisted of joking about the illness. Treatment became funny, and my identity became that of the patient who annoyed staff by saying funny things about eating disorders. Looking back, I don’t know what I was thinking, btw.

    • Jodi Rubin, ACSW, LCSW

      It sounds like you have come a long way in your recovery and have learned a lot about yourself. It also seems that have cultivated a true understanding about the seriousness of eating disorders and how these types of societal missteps further confuse an already complicated disorder. Thank you for your comment, perspective and openness in sharing your own experience!

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