A Halloween costume depicting Anne Frank was removed from an online retailer’s cyber shelves after causing a social media firestorm.
According to a screenshot posted by a Twitter user, the costume, called “WW2 Anne Frank Girls Costume,” “comes with a blue button up dress, reminiscent of the kind of clothing that might be worn by a young girl during WWII.”
“We can always learn from the struggles of history! [WWII] also created some unexpected heroes, where even a young girl like Anne Frank with nothing but a diary and hope could become an inspiration to us all,” the site described, in part.
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy (@JerodMacEvoy) October 15, 2017
The outfit, featured on Halloweencostumes.com, has since been taken down.
Halloweencostumes.com is owned by Fun.com. Ross Walker Smith, a public relations specialist, posted a statement on Twitter to announce the outfit’s removal from the site.
Ross Walker Smith (@RossWalkerSmith) October 16, 2017
Halloweencostumes.com’s Twitter account also posted a statement.
Halloween Costumes (@funcostumes) October 17, 2017
Fun.com, according to its website, began as “a small, family-run business operating out of a garage a couple months a year” in Mankato, Minn., and is now “a huge, family-run business with over 100 year-round employees and thousands of season[al] employees.”
Despite the company’s decision to pull the product, the problem lies in the fact that none of the “over 100” full-time or “thousands of” seasonal workers flagged the costume in the first place, according to Jewish advocacy groups.
“We are glad the Anne Frank costume was removed from the catalogue, but it’s hard to believe that anyone thought this was an appropriate costume for Halloween,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, in an emailed statement provided to DiversityInc. “This should never have happened in the first place. It shows we still have a long way to go in terms of educating people about what happened during the Holocaust, and why this unique event in human history should never be trivialized.”
The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect said on Facebook, “Honoring Anne’s legacy is at the heart of what we do. There are better ways to commemorate her memory than a Halloween costume. We are pleased that the company acted swiftly.”
Similarly, Carlos Galindo-Elvira, regional director for the ADL in Arizona, said on Twitter, “We should not trivialize her memory as a costume.”
The same product can still be found in other places, including Candyapplecostumes.com, which attributes the outfit to a British company called Smiffy’s. The retailer suggests the garment serves as “a historical enhancement to your child’s history project on World War II, or school book report on the Narnia books or the iconic Diary of Anne Frank.”
An Amazon search pulls the same outfit and calls it “Smiffy’s World War II Evacuee Girl Costume, Dress, Hat and Bag.”
On neither website does the title of the product include Frank’s name.
Some people on social media suggested that wearing the costume can be a learning opportunity for young children to have a discussion about Frank and what she endured during the Holocaust. Others simply said that those who were upset are too easily offended.
Comments on the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect’s page ranged from outrage to praise:
If girls can wear “Wonder Woman” and princess costumes why can’t they wear something to show appreciation of someone who was brave in an evil situation…
This is a costume company that sells costumes for plays. Someone just picked October as the month to complain about it. The didn’t put it out for Halloween. I guess this is the end of the play “The Diary of Anne Frank”. Killed by political correctness.
She is considered a hero and pillar of strength to many. If it gets her story out there, maybe more will want to learn more about the causes and effects of that terrible time. History.
Some people said that Frank should not be imitated at all, while others said that the issue is a company making a profit off of the young girl’s short, tragic life.
Anyone who could support the availability of an Anne Frank costume must not have read her diary. This is undeniably disrespectful of a tragic figure who’s most intimate thoughts were reluctantly shared by her father to provide a glimpse into the horrors of the Holocaust. Surprised the outfit didn’t include a yellow star, too. Wear a Girl Scout uniform if that is the look you’re going for!
I think it is disgraceful and very demeaning. Have you forgotten that this little girl was killed in a death camp. Halloween is not the place to celebrate the life of this little girl. Bunch of sicko’s
I think there is a difference between making a costume yourself, dressing like her in period clothes, to pay homage to someone, and selling a costume for profit. This costume definitely trivializes her story. I have no idea why anyone would label this generic 1940s girl costume as Anne Frank. It’s a horrible idea.
If anyone is confused about the inappropriateness of this ask yourself “if my daughter was murdered would I want her outfit to be made into a trick or treat costume How is this even up for debate
A costume for the play is one thing. But to use it for Halloween is really pour taste and just rotten.
Frank, born in Germany, and her family spent two years in hiding during the widespread persecution of Jews throughout World War II. During this time she maintained a diary, which her father, Otto Frank, the only immediate family member to survive the Holocaust, discovered at the end of the war. Frank frequently wrote about her aspirations to be come a journalist or a writer. Otto Frank, after learning her daughter had perished during the war, decided to publish her writings.