Designer Responds to 'Anorexxxy' Sunglasses Controversy

Beth Greenfield, Shine Staff

Depressing celebrity trend alert: the limited edition “Anorexxxy” line of sunglasses by Thierry Lasry and Kelly Wearstler, so-named for their “slim” construction. Though they’ve been popular with the A-list for a while now, the $555 shades are catching the squinting eyes of the masses this week — thanks to their controversial name. (Note: This story has been updated, please scroll to bottom for new details.)

More on Yahoo Shine: Doll That Won't Eat Causes Uproar

National Eating Disorders Association
President Lynn Grefe tells Yahoo Shine, “I think it’s appalling and out of line and absolutely ignorant,” adding, “There is nothing funny or sexy about anorexia.”

Jezebel blogger Isha Aran agrees. “We are so past the idea that eating disorders are haute and sexxxy and edgy, that at this point, it's actually out of style,” she wrote, in a scathing call-out of the line on Sunday. “Maybe they should rename those sunglasses AnoreZZZy because the overplayed and harmful glorification of a life-threatening condition is so unimpressive and boring, it will put you to sleep. Or better yet, just don't name a pair of sunglasses after anorexia.”

The story prompted angry outbursts on Twitter, with critics calling the Anorexxxy name “odious” and “not witty or cute in the slightest,” and asking, “Is this a joke?” In response, Lasry — whose Anorexxxy line has been around for three years and has received more attention since the release of new, limited-edition styles in conjunction with Wearstler in October — offered a tweet of his own: “It’s called Anorexxxy bc it is the slim version of another style named Lively ... KW [Kelly Wearstler] has nothing 2 do w/ this.”

More on Yahoo: Facebook 'Likes' Linked to Eating Disorders

But Wearstler’s name appears prominently on all four new styles, which are handcrafted in France and have acetate frames featuring “striking retro lenses and iconic marble detailing,” according to her website. In January, the interior designer and fashion executive told Bon Appétit, “I’m 100 percent involved with 100 percent of my projects.” (Interestingly, Wearstler also told the publication, “Besides almonds or granola, I don’t eat a lot during the day — juicing is what gives me energy” and described her seven-day-a-week boot camp classes, during which she burns 800 calories per workout.)

Wearstler's representative stresses to Yahoo Shine that the name Anorexxxy comes strictly from Lasry, and that, despite an insider tip given to Yahoo Shine that the line's name would be changed, it will, as far as she knows, stay the same.

Indeed, a spokesperson for Lasry tells Yahoo Shine that the brouhaha “seems to be quite a misunderstanding.” All the glasses designed by Lasry end with a “y,” he notes, as a shout-out to the “y” at the end of both his first and last names; other examples include Slutty, Orgasmy, Dirtymindy, Peroxxxy and Sexxxy. “The style Anorexxxy has been in the collection for three years now and is a classic,” the spokesperson continues, missing the point. “It is called this because it is the thin and light version of an iconic style of the brand called Lively, which has been seen on Madonna, Anne Hathaway, Dita Von Teese, etc. … If [critics] were more familiar with the brand, they would have known that the references of the styles have nothing to do with any particular lifestyle. As I have said earlier, this style has been in the collection for more than three years now and been sold at stores like COLETTE, BERGDORF, BARNEYS, NET-A-PORTER.com, etc. and obviously nobody ever took it the wrong way.”

Clearly Lasry’s people have not checked in with any anorexia experts, such as Grefe. The product-line name, she says, “demonstrates the ignorance among some people that these are life-threatening illnesses. Would they name sunglasses after cancer? After heart disease?” Anorexia, Grefe notes, has the highest death rate of any mental illness, and using the name to market thin sunglasses turns it into a joke, “sticking a knife in the heart” of anyone suffering from the disease.

But the glasses have managed to land some surprising supporters. Jessica Alba, who has been outspoken about her past battle with anorexia, was seen proudly sporting the Anorexxxy sunglasses recently. Ditto for Kristin Cavallari, who has spoken publicly about her struggles with body image, and Sophia Bush, who made a big deal of protesting Urban Outfitters' controversial “Eat Less” T-shirt several years ago.

And as for the straight-up fashion folks? Many love ’em, naturally. The shades got a recent “We’re Obsessed” nod of approval from Harper’s Bazaar, along with various social media shout-outs, including one from Stylist Katie O’Sullivan, who raved, “These are everything.”

UPDATE: Since this story was originally published, the Thierry Lasry brand has issued an apology and announced that it had changed the name "Anorexxxy" to "Axxxexxxy." "This name was not meant to be taken seriously at all. We were obviously in no way paying any kind of homage to anorexia as it is a terrible illness. We never wanted to upset anyone," a March 17 statement reads in part. "However, it seems like we recently have with this name so we’ve decided to rename this style. We again apologize for anyone we might have offended."

Related:
What Dr. Drew's Daughter Paulina Pinsky Can Teach Us About Eating Disorders
The Truth About Male Eating Disorders