Thursday, September 27, 2007

Yikes! A Shocking Billboard Gets Slammed For Bringing A Real Problem To Light!

She is the poster girl with a difference! A billboard showing a nude anorexic model has ignited a firestorm of controversy in Italy. And that billboard has helped reignite the discussion around the world about models, anorexia and the question asked continually in Hollywood: How Thin Is Too Thin? It used to be said that in Los Angeles you could never be "too rich or too thin" but a stable of bony actresses, models and TV personalites (most notably Nicole Richie) have helped changed the public's perception. The nude model in the billboard, actually a French comedienne named Isabelle Caro, weighs less than 70 pounds. She says she has had anorexia (anoressia in Italian) since she was 13.

Her emaciated body, framed by the controversial photographer Oliviero Toscani in a campaign to coincide with Milan Fashion Week, appears alongside the slogan “No Anorexia” and the brand name Nolita, a label intended for young women. While Toscani’s job in the fashion world has given him experience and perspective with the dangers and habits of anorexia within its models, who in recent months have come under heavy scrutiny for being far too thin and a call for set standards, critics remain apprehensive about Toscani’s controversial way of addressing the issue.

Caro weighs 31kg (4st 12lb) and has suffered from anorexia for 15 years. “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,” Caro told the Italian edition of Vanity Fair. She said that her own troubled childhood had provoked her illness, even if some in the fashion world conceded that stereotypes promoted by the industry itself were to blame. She says, 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.

As top Uruguayan model Luisel Ramos floated down the catwalk last month to rapturous applause from fashion mavens and front-row celebrities, she thought she’d reached a new career high. The already skinny 22-year-old had been informed by her model agency that she could "make it big" if she lost a significant amount of weight. So, for three months she ate nothing but salads and greens and drank only Diet Coke in an attempt to reach the elusive ‘size zero’, so coveted by the fashion world today. Minutes after stepping off the catwalk, after complaining she felt unwell, Luisel dropped dead from heart failure. The ultimate fashion victim.

I admire Isabelle’s strength and bravery, but most importantly I admire that she recognizes her problem and wants to recover, and in the process instill strength in others as well. Even people who take no notice of fashion get anorexic. Hell, it's the opposite of what I was over 10 years ago at 459 pounds. I took the steps to recover from my "eating disorder" and I think the fashion world needs a wake up call and this billboard is certainly shocking enough. Maybe too shocking?

I think I'm gonna go eat a cookie.