Halloween is a tricky time for social mores, as the rules of what’s acceptable are rewritten. It can be hard to find the boundaries. It’s fine to have hellish skeletons in every Rite-Aid, for example, but a terrible idea for Julianne Hough to dress up in blackface. So it should come as no surprise, then, that the “Anna Rexia” costume has shown up again with an online costume retailer, and that it’s caused some controversy.
Halloween costumes are legendary for getting more and more inappropriate (“Sexy Bert and Ernie”, really?), but the “Anna Rexia” costume takes the cake. Designed by Dreamgirls International in 2007, it features a tight, sexy-cut black dress with a skeletal design and a measuring tape waist, not to mention the tagline, “You can never be too rich or too thin.” Tasteful.
The costume was the focus of an online protest in 2011, which caused some online major costume retailers to yank the costume. But this season, Halloweenparty13.com has been selling the discontinued costume again.
It’s not the only ghoulish thing that is upsetting to positive body image advocates. Mattel has seen great success with its Monsters High line of dolls and multimedia, which focus on female offspring of famous monsters. Many childhood welfare advocates worry that the ghoulish girls featured are designed to be so thin that they make Barbie look curvy by comparison.
While the stick-figure dolls of Monster High may be just wrong to market to impressionable young girls, there still is the question of where to draw the line for Halloween costumes. “Anna Rexia” may be terrible, but the costume is just as gross as any number of zombie costumes that will be a popular sell this year.