Halloween: a time to “pretend” you are something or someone that you are not. A time when children get to “Trick or Treat”, and a time when adults will get to go to fun parties and laugh with one another regarding the humor or audacity of each other’s costumes. It is not a time, however, to belittle diseases or illness.
Could you imagine someone with a costume depicting (and making light of) the effects of cancer? Diabetes? Parkinson’s? Blindness?
I seriously doubt that any company would take one of these severe, life-threatening illnesses and turn it into some sort of folly or amusement for themselves, others, or for any holiday. I understand that there are many people out there who like to “push the envelope” regarding their costumes, but I truly hope that people respect that there are some issues that just aren’t funny when they are masqueraded and mocked.
I believe that the underlying issue with the makers and distributors of this costume is that they need to be educated. Do they understand that anorexia takes lives? Recent statistics show that:
- Anorexia is the 3rd most common chronic illness among adolescents (Lucas, Beard, O'Fallon, & Kurland, 1991)
- The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate of ALL causes of death for females 15 – 24 years old. (Sullivan, 1995)
- AN is arguably one of the most severe psychiatric disorders as measured by mortality and morbidity rates—the crude mortality rate is between 4 and 5%, higher than any other mental disorder with the possible exception of substance abuse (Crow, S.J., Peterson, C.B., Swanson, S.A., Raymond, N.C., Specker, S., Eckert, E.D., Mitchell, J.E. , 2009)
These are just a few of the multitude of “facts” that are out there regarding the seriousness of eating disorders, and in particular in this case, anorexia nervosa. These individuals are often struggling with underlying issues related to trauma, abuse, fear, loss, and yes, death. So to mock or imitate such a struggle is just cruel.
I propose that from now on, we continue on with the Halloween tradition in a more jovial manner, and dress up in costumes that are cute and clever…and seriously, isn’t the best part of Halloween all about the candy corn anyway?