Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dress Up?

Halloween is just around the corner!

I love this holiday. I really do. Halloween means it's really truly fall. It means I get to play dress up and make-believe with the other kids. It means girls will be running around campus scantily clad as sexy nurses, sexy cops in hot pants and and witches in teeny-tiny skirts...wait a minute.

I love most of the stuff about Halloween, but this shit is just stupid.

Sadly, these costumes are nothing to be surprised/shocked about.

I'm all for feeling good about yourself and showing off a little and when you want to. Halloween is a great opportunity to have some fun, get dressed up and be a little silly.

I just wish there wasn't such a tendency to use the holiday as an excuse to get girls to dress like strippers.

If those typical sexist, objectifying, insluting and tacky costumes are a bit much, the one below has crossed the line into 'truly offensive'.

Because there is nothing funnier than dressing up like a life threatening disease. This is the costume you can buy (and yes, it does come in plus sizes) to be Anna Rexia this Halloween. The dress comes with a measuring tape belt and choker and a heart-shaped name tag so everyone will be able to get the joke.

I love that the model they chose is a very buxom, healthy looking curvy woman. As if we need to glamorize eating disorders a little more. Mary Kate and Ashley? Keira? I will not suprised when I see this picture show up on a "thinspiration" page at a pro-ana or pro-mia website.

About a week ago we had a couple of young ladies from an eating disorder awareness group on campus come to our journalism class to talk to us about their program and what is offered on campus. They were a little nervous I think, trying to give their presentation in front of a bunch of journalism students who were writing down everything they said. I think they did a great job, though. We had to take notes and write a story covering thier presentation. Here's mine:

Images in the media such as super thin models and emaciated actresses are a major factor contributing to people developing eating disorders, according to two representatives from an eating disorder awareness group on campus.

The models seen daily in ads and on commercials are digitally enhanced, slimmed down and otherwise manipulated in order to sell products, said the representatives at a recent presentation. People don’t always realize that even the models don’t look perfect and many suffer from disordered eating themselves, said one.

“We pick our friends because they are there for us not because they’re skinny or pretty or have nice clothes,” said presenter Kristy Williams, a 21-year-old journalism major at CSUN.

Williams and Jaycee DeFillipo spoke to a group of about 20 students in Manzanita Hall Thursday night about the reasons, signs and consequences of eating disorders. Both young women are members of JADE, or the Joint Advocates on Eating Disorders at CSUN.

According to JADE statistics, 60 percent of CSUN students have known someone with an eating disorder and 38 percent have had or currently have one. Of that 28 percent, 20 percent are males. The students who seem most affected, according to the JADE web-site, are majoring in kinesiology, health science, nutrition and journalism – areas that focus either on food or the media.

There are many signs a person has an eating disorder, said DeFillipo. The 23-year-old journalism student said anorexics may display a fear of gaining weight and avoid situations where they are expected to eat in front of people, such as going out to dinner. They may also have hair loss or develop a thin layer of hair on their bodies. This is the body’s attempt to try to keep warm when so much body fat has been lost, she said.

Williams said that bulimics can develop different problems. Their weight may actually stay the same, but because they are throwing up so often they could have tooth decay, a hole in the esophagus, calluses on their fingers as well as hair loss and heart problems, she said. The 21-year-old broadcast journalism major added that they will often exercise a lot and also display a fear of gaining weight.

“The main way people get an eating disorder is to start dieting, it turns into an obsession because of a mental background of anxiety or depression,” said DeFillipo.

Both Williams and DeFillipo emphasized that eating disorders are serious problems. According to the JADE website, between 5 and 20 percent of people who develop eating disorders die as a result of medical complications.

“If you do know someone who has an eating disorder it can be a really touchy subject,” said Williams.

Never attack your friend or make fun of them, she advised. Try to use ‘I statements’ such as, I feel like you haven’t been eating a lot lately. Approach them when they are alone so they don’t feel embarrassed or ganged up on.

“If they won’t listen to you and you feel it is very serious, tell someone,” said DeFillipo.

JADE is part of the University Counseling Services and offers many resources to help students who may have or know someone who suffering from an eating disorder. There is a screening quiz on the website at www. csun.edu/counseling. To speak with a counselor about eating disorders, students can call the center at (818) 677-7500 or the main line at (818) 677-2366. All calls are confidential.

If you're having an issue with an eating disorder and don't happen to go to Cal State Northridge like me, you can contact one of these groups for help:

National Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center

National Eating Disorders Association
International treatment referrals and information

Since eating disorders are usually linked to other problems like depression and suicidal feelings, I thought I should include these numbers as well:

Hope Line Network

800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433)
National Suicide Hotline
Trained volunteers and professional counselors there to listen


bazu said...

That costume is beyond stupid. It's offensive, but also completely baffling (I didn't get it until I read your description!), so we can only hope it doesn't garner the highest of returns... I love Halloween too, nothing better than a little pagan romping about. This year, I'm going as Jim Jones (complete with kool aid pitcher!)

Anonymous said...

Hope this doesn't come over twice.. I just wanted to say that I love that there are women out there who'll dress "down" for Halloween. For once I don't have to use my imagination!! Although, I can tell ya that it won't be my daughter - ever...

okay, seriously - I do think its offensive and I love your blog on the subject!!

Love You - D.

Dusty said...

As someone who has never worried about how she looks to others..this is hard for me to comprehend.

But I do know that at one time, one of my sisters was anorexic. I called her on it..everyone else in the family ignored the problem. She eventually got over her fear of being fat to a certain extent. Now, she is old and rich enough to get lipo.

Sad ain't it?

Good post for someone like me that never thinks about this serious disorder.

Anonymous said...

"wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure."
-J.K. Rowling

Marz said...

Wow, you constantly amaze me. Thoughtful and insightful as always. Thank you for providing resources both on campus and national. One of the students in my class is a member of JADE as well and she will be giving an information speech on eating disorders in the next two weeks. If it is my 12:00, do you want to come observe?

XOXO - So glad you are back.

bazu said...

Meesh, I heard this story on NPR today and thought of you... not much of an improvement, is it...?


Cherry Red said...

Wow, Anna Rexia? What an insensitive costume! Why not just call it a skeleton costume? In this society, it's not difficult to imagine why women (and men!) have food issues. And now we need to make fun of them?

My cousin is anorexic--has been for years--and nothing we say or do (or her doctors say or do,) will change her. I see her every Christmas and marvel at how fragile her body is when we hug, and I wonder if this will be the last time I hug her. It's sad and it's scary, but it's not funny.

Thank you for your insightful, thoughtful post, as always.


Anonymous said...