The Nolita ad campaign has shocked people with its image of an anorexic woman
Heidi Diaz...this is what your Kimkins starvation diet can lead to...
"September 25, 2007
FASHION CHAIN CONFRONTS EATING DISORDERS
Hard-Hitting Ad Shows Naked Anorexic Woman
"The Nolita ad campaign has shocked people with its image of an anorexic woman.
Back in 1992, photographer Oliviero Toscani caused controversy around the world with his pictures of a man dying of AIDS which formed part of a Benetton advertising campaign. Now he is back in the headlines with an equally shocking image of a naked anorexic woman, which a fashion chain is using to raise awareness about eating disorders.
The Nolita advertisement, timed to coincide with Milan fashion week, appeared Monday in Italian newspapers, including a two-page center spread in La Repubblica, and on billboards in Italy. A slogan above the naked photograph reads "No Anorexia."
Flash&Partners, the fashion group that owns the Nolita brand, said in a statement that Toscani's aim was "to use that naked body to show everyone the reality of this illness, caused in most cases by the stereotypes imposed by the world of fashion."
The woman in the photo is Isabelle Caro from France, who is 27 years old and has been anorexic for 15 years. She weighs a mere 68 lbs. and suffers from the skin disease, psoriasis.
Caro said, "I've hidden myself and covered myself for too long. Now I want to show myself fearlessly, even though I know my body arouses repugnance. I want to recover because I love life and the riches of the universe. I want to show young people how dangerous this illness is. Just because modelling is seen as glamorous, [the industry] seems to think it is outside normal health and safety issues. It is time it started taking care of its workers."
Many people blame the fashion industry and the obsession with stick-thin size zero models for the rise in cases of anorexia. Calls for action within the British fashion industry led to a full-scale investigation into the problems by a panel of experts this year.
The report by the Model Health Inquiry, which was published last week on the eve of London Fashion Week, made 14 recommendations including requiring models to pass medical checks before being allowed on the catwalk and barring appearances from those under 16.
Unveiling the report, chairman of the inquiry, Baroness Kingsmill, slammed the fashion world for allowing young girls to be exploited.
In Madrid and Milan, authorities have banned the appearance of ultra-skinny models on catwalks by forcing models to carry certificates proving they are healthy. Last year, super-skinny models were banned from Madrid Fashion Week. The ban covers girls with a body mass index of below 18 -- 18.5 to 25 is considered to be "normal."
Italy's health minister Livia Turco backed the campaign and said: "The disturbing image of Isabelle Caro could open an original channel for communication and encourage people to shoulder their responsibilities in the area of anorexia."
Italy's Ministry of Health supported the Nolita campaign and Health Minister Livia Turco said it can "promote responsibility towards the problem of anorexia." Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana also praised the ad. "Finally, someone says the truth about anorexia, that it's not a fashion problem but a psychiatric problem," the Italian news agency ANSA quoted the celebrity designer duo as saying.
The issue was brought to the forefront after the starvation-related deaths of South American models Ana Carolina Reston, 21, and sisters Luisel and Eliana Ramos. All died in the past year. 22-year-old model Luisel Ramos collapsed and died at a show in Uruguay, after having gone days without eating properly.
"Luisel Ramos (born c. 1984 – August 2, 2006) was a Uruguayan model.
On August 2, 2006, at 9:15 p.m., Ramos died of heart failure caused by anorexia nervosa while participating in a fashion show during Fashion Week in Montevideo, Uruguay. Ramos had felt ill after walking the runway and subsequently fainted on her way back to the dressing room. She died at the age of 22.
Ramos' father told police that she had gone "several days" without eating. She was reported to have adopted a diet of lettuce leaves and Diet Coke for the three months before her death. At the time of her death she had a body mass index (BMI) of about 14.5 due to having weighed little more than 7 stone (98 lb, 44 kg) despite being 5 ft 9 in tall (1.75 m). The World Health Organization considers a BMI of around 16 to be starvation.
In the wake of Ramos' death, the Madrid Fashion Week (held in September 2006) set a minimum BMI of 18 for all models. In December that year, Italian fashion designers banned size zero models from walking down their catwalks.
On February 13, 2007, her 18-year-old sister Eliana Ramos, also a model, died at her grandparents' home in Montevideo of an apparent heart attack, believed to be related to malnutrition. " (from Wikipedia)
For those who may feel that this billboard campaign could "promote" anorexia nervosa, please read this excellent article by Susie Orbach of the Guardian Unlimited:
"I am surprised to read that colleagues working with girls and women with eating and body difficulties have responded negatively to the pictures of Isabelle Caro, the 27-year-old actress who weighs just 31 kilograms, displayed on billboards across Italy.
The startling and disturbing images are part of a campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of going on hunger strike. She's been on one since she was 12. The campaign, shot by Oliviero Toscani who has shocked the world before with his provocative campaigns for Benetton, is supported by the fashion industry in Italy and has been mounted to coincide with Milan fashion week. The industry has become worried, and for good reason, that they are inadvertently promoting body hatred in girls and women.
My colleagues are concerned that the Toscani pictures will be aspirational. They are certainly correct that visual culture is reconstructing our relationship to the body. We can't but help look at ourselves from the outside to see whether our bodies sufficiently reflect an acceptable version of the 5,000 digitally enhanced images that are beamed at us per week. This is particularly the case for girls and young women and my colleagues worry that girls, perhaps those who are already hooked into the proAna sites will chase the elusive dream to fit in through acquiring a diminished body.
If visual culture can invoke a feeling that we need to be thin, perhaps the pictures of Isabelle Caro will become glamorised in such a way that they invite us to mimic her. It's possible but I doubt it. I think we are not yet inured to the horror they portray. We can still see them. It takes more than one or two images to change our visual landscape and I think they will become a rallying point for campaigners against the body hatred which eats into so many of our children's childhoods, adolescence and young adulthood.
We need to address the problem visually because it has in large part created visually. Yes, eating problems start in the home, sometimes unwittingly passed on by mums and siblings who have body anxieties of their own which in turn owe much to the ubiquity of art-directed visual culture. Yes, anorexia and the starvation that goes with it have to be addressed emotionally and sometimes medically, but if we fail to challenge worship of just one body type, we will miss an important dimension to transform the problem.
Bodies today are rarely where we live from. They become our production. Our personal statement about who we are. We work on them. We spend a fortune on them. We decorate, transform and manipulate them. Cosmetic surgery is worth $14bn this year, and expected to increase by a $1bn for next. The number of girls and women (and increasingly men) who suffer with severe eating and body difficulties, sometimes obvious like bulimia and obesity, sometimes hidden in bulimia or binge eating, is rising and reaching into earlier and earlier age groups.
We do need to campaign. And at the visual level - which is where this campaign is located. Shocking images are one way, pictures of women of different sizes, as in the Dove campaign, and the deconstructing of the beauty industry through videos are others. We need the best our art directors can do to democratise our visual field so that all of our beauty and variety is included. We need to face the public health emergency that is body hatred (in all its manifestations from obesity to anorexia) and transform the role of visual culture so that it becomes part of the solution and not the problem."
One of the comments on this blog post was made by OhYeahBabe, and it is an excellent comment. I was remiss in not pointing this out in my blog post.
Here is OhYeahBabe's comment:
"People need to understand that you don't have to look like Isabelle Caro to be anorexic. I think that's a significant point of confusion for people who want to stick to Kimkins because they think they are not anorexic yet."
So right you are, OhYeahBabe. Thanks so much for taking the time to point that out. Kudos to you!