National Eating Disorders Association

“Fat Girl” Halloween Costumes at Walmart?!

Caitlin Hamilton, Media & Communications Manager

Yesterday, the internet noticed that Walmart was selling plus-sized costumes under the name “Fat Girl Costumes.” Wow…just wow. The retail giant has since changed their website listing, but the aftershocks of the glaring error continue to be felt. (Thanks to Jezebel for flagging this shameful marketing technique.)

The word "fat" is too often used as an insult in our culture and in this context it feels like a cruel joke. The derogatory use of the word "fat" brings on negative and totally groundless stereotypes and suggests that there is a superiority to "thinness." We need to combat these misconceptions on a daily basis.

For many, the Halloween season is a hot bed of eating disorder triggers. Consider the ‘Anna Rexia’ costume that pops up every year or the ubiquitous thin-ideal trap of the “sexy _____” costume. Now add to that the weight stigmatizing impact of calling plus-sized costumes “fat girl costumes.”

Shaming someone based on their size for being “too fat” or “too thin” or “too whatever,” is not only offensive, but dangerous. Bullying, cultural pressures that glorify “thinness” and size/weight-related discrimination are key factors that may conribute to the development of an eating disorder. And, unfortunately, weight discrimination occurs more frequently than age or gender discrimination.

Halloween is meant to be a fun celebration and everyone should be able to dress up in their costume of choice, no matter what their size, without the fear of being judged or labeled.  So let’s use this year as an opportunity to support one another. But no matter what you decide to wear this Friday, remember that it’s what’s inside the costume that matters – you!