Isabella Caro, A French model whose emaciated body in a controversial Italian campaign against anorexia shocked the global fashion world, has died at the age of 28.
She rose to global fame three years ago when posters of her starved body were displayed around Milan on the eve of the fashion week in 2007, raking up a controversy of how the fashion industry promotes certain body images. The posters were banned in Italy but the images went viral online. The campaign followed the death of two models due to the same problem.
She died on November 17, after returning from Tokyo, but her family kept her death a secret. Referring to Caro's anorexia, Daniele Dubreuil-Prevot, her long-time acting instructor, said the French model had been sick for a long time
Making her anorexia battle public
Caro chose to make her battle with the disease public as a warning to other women. She was anorexic since 13 and wanted to tell the world of her struggle. She went on talk shows and wrote a book ‘The Little Girl Who Didn't Want to Get Fat’. At the time her posters were put out, she weighed just 29 kgs. In an interview with Jessica Simpson on VH1, last year, she said that she was 39 kgs now. She told her that she started modeling at the age of 16 and was asked to reduce her weight by 10 kgs. She also talked about how she was never once questioned by any modeling agency about her weight.
Vincent Bigler, a Swiss singer who became a close friend of Caro, told The Independent that Caro had been determined to help women like her who suffered from eating disorders.
She was this thin girl with a fragile voice but inside she was amazingly strong, he said. She was always very close to people like her. She would give out her phone number to anyone who wanted to talk about eating disorders. She even put her number on her blog. On her birthday this year she invited all her followers and fans to her party. That was the kind of person she was. She was very open-minded.
Criticism for glorifying anorexia
There has been some criticism about her campaign against anorexia . People believe that her body image encourages some people and glorifies anorexia. This might seem far-fetched, but some tributes on the internet are shocking and revealing. She is touted as ‘thinspiration’. One blog wrote a tribute against her picture, “Die Young Stay Prety.”On the other hand Isabella was of the firm belief that her pictures will repel people instead of encouraging them.
My anorexia causes death, she explained in an interview three years ago. It is everything but beauty, the complete opposite. It is an unvarnished photo, without make-up. The message is clear – I have psoriasis, a pigeon chest, the body of an elderly person.
The Italian photographer Oliviero Toscani, the Italian photographer who shot her pictures sis similarly insistent about the effect of the campaign, Looking at my ad, girls with anorexia would say to themselves that they have to stop dieting, he said at the time. When you do something extreme, there are always people who oppose it. It shouldn't be the photos that shock, but the reality.
Reaction of the fashion industry
The fashion industry’s response has been a knee-jerk one. In 2008 the French fashion industry representatives signed a government-backed charter in pledging not to encourage eating disorders and to promote healthy body images by promoting a diversity of body representations and not showing images of people that could help promote a model of extreme thinness.
The same year London Fashion Week organizers dropped plans for an international health certificate for models as industry executives refused to co-operate.