A skin and bones costume titled "Anna Rexia" found its way onto the online inventory of popular beauty and costume store Ricky's before being pulled from the company website, according to the Village Voice.
The reaction to the item was swift.
"I'm just appalled because eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness," said Trish Jones-Bendel, a board member National Association of Anorexia Nervosa & Associated Disorders. "Depending on the rates, and how long people have had the disorder, mortality [for the illness] can be from 10 to 15 percent. There are also high suicide rates with people that have anorexia. There's not a system of the body that it does not impact."
An advertisement for the costume shows a woman in a provocative pose holding a measuring tape wrapped around her waist, showing off a bone atop her head, and a skeletal view on the dress that includes a little red label spelling out "Anna Rexia." The overview stated, "Miss Anna Rexia costume has knit dress with glitter screenprint." The then-expected price tag for the item: $49.99, according to VV.
"It's no laughing matter. It reinforces the comments that people don't understand them. This really saddens me to see how people misunderstand them. In a culture like ours where we're supposed to be so educated, we just missed the point so much with the population that need our help," said Jones-Bendel, who noted that upwards of 12 million people suffer from eating disorders.
We asked Ricky's for comment and were told "the costume is not available." In a follow-up query, a spokesperson for the company wrote that our information was incorrect, but failed to elaborate. Further questions to the PR company went unanswered.
The Gothamist reported that the costume was not available for Ricky's Costume Superstore shoppers. The item was listed online as "coming soon."
A quick Internet search netted results for the costume in sizes from extra small to plus sizes. The costume has been around for a while. In 2009, the costume was listed as one of the eight weirdest, tackiest, creepiest, and sickest costumes. While some stores are dropping the Halloween costume, the item can still be found at stores in the United Kingdom.
One store, Halloweenstore.com, fails to be spooked by the controversy surrounding the costume, providing a clarification note about the costume.
"NOTE: The 'bones' are not white as shown in the image, they are more of a gray color with rainbow glitter," the website states.