I have a casual addiction to Buzzfeed. Or maybe my addiction is to procrastinating. Either way, I spend a sufficient amount of time on Buzzfeed. Usually I’m attracted to their lists. The “35 Things You Never Knew about Your Great Aunt’s Cousin’s Favorite Movie”—esque thing. Last Thursday, however, I found a headline of a different, and more disturbing, sort.
“This Is The Most Distasteful Halloween Costume You’ll See This Year.”
Naturally, my ‘never use generalizations in journalism’ defensive instinct clicked the link.
And I discovered this generalization was correct. Because “Anna Rexia” is the most distasteful Halloween costume I’ll see this year, and maybe also ever.
A mini black dress featuring the skeletal system in white, with a tape measure tied around the waist. There’s a nametag, featuring the costume’s “clever” (gag me) title, “Anna Rexia.” To top it all off, there’s even a bone to be worn in the hair. Charming, right?
I may not be the Costume Police, but I am a 21-year-old girl, which means I know a thing or two about why Anna Rexia is “the most distasteful Halloween costume I’ll see this year.”
As women, we are taught that it’s embarrassing to ask the weight of another woman. As women, we are taught that if someone is to ask us such a shameful question, we are to dodge the answer; feign embarrassment; look. the. other. way.
I am taught that I should be embarrassed to say I weigh 141 pounds.
I am not taught, however, that I should be embarrassed to wear a costume that blatantly makes a joke out of a serious mental illness. The mental illness with the highest rate of fatality. I am taught that it’s okay to joke about that. Okay enough that I can be it for Halloween, like anorexia is some character I idolize on TV.
I am a girl who weighs 141ish pounds, a normal weight for my height, who has never suffered from an eating disorder; I have, however, suffered from society’s view of the “perfect woman.”
I once heard a guy say that women aren’t pressured by the media to look skinnier. And if they think they are, they should “just stop looking.”
Stop looking at the thousands of advertisements I’m exposed to daily? Do you propose I just shut my eyes and lie in bed all day? Shall I wish for blindness and deafness? How exactly do you propose I “look away” from life?
And then there will be people who argue, “anorexics choose not to eat.” This is 100% false. I, a girl who loves carbohydrates more than Netflix, am certain no one “chooses” to have an eating disorder. But for argument’s sake, let’s say it is a choice; shall we then start dressing up as blackened lungs being attacked by cancer because someone chooses to smoke?
I don’t have an eating disorder.
I don’t know anyone with an eating disorder.
Here’s what I do know: I can count on one hand the number of girls I know who haven’t once made an unhealthy comment about their body, their weight or their relationship with food.
This isn’t a generalization or a dramatization; this is what I know.
I am taught to be less, but to do more.
I am taught that it’d be best if I could take up as little space as Katy Perry’s Photoshopped body on a magazine cover.
I am told that certain stores (I’m looking at you, Abercrombie) will not make clothes in plus size because that is not “cool.”
I am taught that smaller is better. Less is more. Except for when it comes to Kim Kardashian’s bust and butt.
I am not taught what calories are, but I am told I should count them.
I am sold diet pills, size 00 jeans and 100 calorie packs of hummus—because I should even be rationing the chick peas I consume. And now I am being sold anorexia in costume form, too.
I know a doctor has never said I am overweight. I know my BMI does not tell me I am overweight. But I also know I own a scale in my college apartment. And I know these thoughts run through my head daily:
I shouldn’t eat that cookie. Or that cookie. I should lose five pounds. I should go to the gym more. Every time I want to eat frozen yogurt, I should just go to the gym.
This is what I know. And the only difference between me and someone with an eating disorder is that I don’t listen to what I am told, whether it be by the media, society or myself.
That’s the difference.
I have not succumbed to these negative thoughts and words, and in my case, the cookie always wins. I have granted myself immunity from these vicious attacks.
That is the difference I know of.
So please, do not tell me we can choose what messages we absorb. Do not tell me an eating disorder is a choice, because who would choose it? Do not tell me the number one leading cause of death in mental illnesses is something we should dress up as.
Tell me it is something we should fight against.
One day a year we get to be someone/something we are not. We get to be anyone! Is that not our upmost wish in life? So tell me, why would anyone choose to be “Anna Rexia” when millions suffering from this disease are not granted such a choice?
Victims of these disorders lay crying on their bedroom floors; they lay unfed in a hospital bed; they lay broken in a casket, where they are finally able to close their eyes from the media from the influences. But tell me now, is “Look Away” really the solution we think best to suggest?