Friday, September 28, 2007

Shock therapy in advertising?

This week Italian womenswear brand Nolita has caused a lot of commotion with their new and controversial campaign. The photographs of 27-year-old emaciated anorexia patient Isabelle Caro (a French actress) bear the legend 'No Anorexia'. You can see it here (Flash needed). The pictures were shot by the Italian photographer Oliviero Toscani, who in 1992 photographed a man dying of AIDS for a Benetton campaign. It's no coincidence the campaign is coinciding with the Milan Fashion Week. The size zero debate is very much alive!

Caro herself does not blame the fashion industry for her disease, from which she began to suffer at the age of 13, owing to a difficult childhood. She seems sincere in her hope that allowing her emaciated naked body to go on public display will help dispel any "romantic" ideas young girls might have about the condition. She writes a blog about her illness and 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."

The Nolita campaign has received backing from the Italian Ministry of Health. From the point of view of Italian health minister Livia Turco such publicity is a good thing. "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," she said.

The reactions are reaching from positive to negative and everything in between. I have very mixed feelings about it. I'm not shocked by seeing the pictures, I've seen it in real life often enough. I am very glad though that I don't think it's beautiful or something to strive for anymore!!
For a lot of anorexia patients these kind of pics are nothing new also. They are displayed on every pro-ana site to glorify the "anorexic lifestyle". On the other hand seeing them in the streets on huge billboards and 2-page display in newspapers might be different from glancing at them in the privacy of their own home. I've been thinking what my own reaction would have been in my anorexic days, but I'm not sure. Sometimes shock therapy like this is the only thing that can cause a change or even revolution in behaviour and thinking.
I don't know...

What do you think??


  1. I checked her blog as well as the news were on tv... I have lived this illness through my friends' children and because of that I think it could possibly stop potential anorexics because the picture isn't pretty but the ones already ill could see a model to follow here...As a way of raising awareness I think it is positive. But then today I heard the new Miss Italy is 1.80m and insignificant 51kg on the scale!

  2. I agree with Mar that if it raises awareness it is positive. I was anorexic in my early 20's now I am bulimic now so I still am fighting my own battles with food and body image. I take it one day at a time. :o)

  3. I have very mixed feelings too...

    Yes it raises awareness, but is it the right kind of awareness? It shows a very extreme form of anorexia, and anyone who isn't more than skin and bones might be seen as 'not that ill' and not taken seriously by people who have no knowledge about the very complicated disease.

    Also, it might cause anorexia patients to think 'Oohhh, I'm not that far off the deep end after all' and not take themselves seriously and not look for help. Or.... it might be a reason for them to continue doing what they're doing, striving to become that picture.

    I do not think that this picture will cause a hard core anorexic to get well, to be honest. You need a more personal wake up call than a picture of which there are too many of on the internet anyway.

    I think it would be far better to stop having underweight models on the catwalk and stick figures in the magazines.

  4. I agree with Eveline, that it might give people a false sense of security--"I'm not that bad," but on the other hand, it does present an image to counter all those showing ultra-thin models and actresses as standards of beauty.

    It's a problem with no easy answers, but on balance, I think anything that raises awareness is a good thing.

  5. I have seen this picture it's terrible. It's also a terrible desease, just like a drug addict. I only hope they won't allow too skinny models anymore for fashion shows !

    Tomorrow I publish my reportage about the Garda Lake, so if you are interested in you are welcome !
    How is little Maia ? Rosie is sooo affectionated, now she sleeps around my neck during night. I have a fur collar !

  6. Good morning, Tink! Tag! You're it. ;)


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