Fashion photographer Oliviero Toscani is not one to shy away from controversy or shock tactics. Now he is taking on the anorexia epidemic in a new ad campaign picturing an emaciated anorexic with the tagline "No anorexia." The ad is sponsored by Italian clothing company No-l-ita and will be featured on billboards in many Italian cities--just in time for Milan Fashion Week. "I've been looking at the problem of anorexia for years. Who is responsible? Communication in general? Television? Fashion?" asked Toscano.
"So it is very interesting that in the end a fashion company has understood the importance of the problem, and with full awareness has found the courage to take the risk this campaign involves," he said in a No-l-ita press release.
While we don't think the media and the fashion industry are entirely responsible for causing anorexia, we are completely on board with the idea that they should take responsibility for promoting healthier images of beauty. The images in this ad clearly show what un-retouched anorexia looks like. No makeup. No designer clothes. No forgiving lighting. It's not pretty.
Toscani raises another important point, though. The industry does need to be aware of the gravity of anorexia. But what about other eating disorders? Public education campaigns (and celebrity tabloids for that matter) have long relied on the image of the emaciated anorexic because it is the most startling and visible of eating disorders. However, most sufferers do not wear their illnesses as skin and bones. Millions of people are caught up in dangerous, life-threatening eating disordered behavior. You wouldn't stop in your tracks if you saw their pictures on a billboard because they don't look skeletal. You wouldn't gasp or speculate about their health because they have pretty "normal" bodies. Too-skinny model spotting has practically become a media pastime, but there are plenty of curvier runway regulars who are suffering, too. [Reuters and AFP]
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