Jenice Armstrong | Unfunny costumes

L AST OCTOBER, I wrote

about how slutty costumes - the kind consumers used to buy from adult-oriented catalogues - have become the thing to wear on Halloween.

20071011_dn_z1fjen11f

I was referring to those naughty nurse and police officer getups (garter belts included) that have turned Oct. 31 into Skankoween. This year the folks who make these things have come out with an outfit that's even more off the bad-taste-ometer, because it's about a potentially fatal eating disorder - anorexia nervosa.

It's a skintight black dress with a white skeleton printed on it. A measuring tape serves as a belt. And lest a passer-by not immediately understand the connection, the costume comes with a removable badge with the moniker "Anna Rexia." Get it? Ugh. Let's hope the girls who wear these things for Halloween parties don't.

As Dr. David Hahn, assistant medical director of the Renfrew Center, an eating-disorder-treatment facility, pointed out yesterday, "Anorexia is a life-threatening mental illness and a costume like this minimizes the danger, and is deeply offensive and insensitive to the families and individuals who are suffering."

Speaking of holidays, here's another scary example of inappropriate fun. It's Barbie's new Fashion Fever Shopping Boutique. Think of it as a future shopaholic's dream all done up in pink. Designed for ages 5 and up, it even comes with a plastic credit card - just what every aspiring fashionista needs before she hits middle school.

"Swipe the Fashion Fever credit card to 'pay' and find out the remaining balance on your account," says a product description on Amazon.com.

But this is one doll whose Visa card is never maxed out.

"Once the balance hits zero, it will reset so you can continue to shop."

If only Mommy's Visa or MasterCard card did the same thing, so she could shop on and on, interest-free, of course. At a time when so many Americans are struggling with consumer debt, you have to wonder what the folks at Mattel were thinking. This is not the message to send to impressionable little girls.

"I guess we have to ask, do we want to be teaching pre-adolescent girls how to go into debt and how to be spending money without any repercussions," said Grant Landis, a spokesman for the wholesome This Is Me doll collection. "That's teaching irresponsibility."

When I told Josh Grolin, of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, about the toy, he said, "It's part of a larger trend to incorporate credit cards into children's play."

Certain editions of Monopoly and Life now feature credit cards, he pointed out.

"Debt is a huge problem for people and we're teaching people at a young age to rely on credit cards. Children need to learn about finances and they need to learn about it in a responsible way."

If this trend of turning adult activities into child's play, what could be next, Lap Dance Barbie, complete with a plastic fistful of dollar bills and a tiny stripper pole? *

Peeped a hot trend that hasn't been reported? E-mail heyjen@phillynews.com and let me know what you know.