After all this talk about the "No Anorexia" campaign, I decided to show you a picture of another nude model--me.
This is from a 1999 article in Glamour, when I first went public about my seven-year battle with bulimia. I was healthy when the photo was taken, but my body didn't look much different from when I was very sick. That's the thing about eating disorders. They don't always look so shocking.
I have a lot of mixed feelings about the No-l-ita ad campaign. First, it is of no surprise to me that the campaign comes from Oliviero Toscani. After all his years at Benetton, he has become known for this style. I think he is a great artist in his ability to increase the visibility of taboo topics. He has certainly gotten people talking with this uncomfortable, extreme image of a very sick anorexic. After Ana Carolina Reston's death last year and the declarations and recommendations of fashion councils around the world, I am glad to see the discussion continue. However, it saddens me to see that, yet again, the focus is on the extreme. Yes, sensationalism works and gets people's attention, but it's such a limited view of what eating disorders look like. I appeared on a few billboards when I was so ill and depressed I thought I would die. That desperation never showed up in the pictures, though.
Finally, publicity for the sake of it is, in my mind, very selfish, irresponsible and money-oriented. When I came out and talked publicly about my eating disorder, I didn't just want to put myself in the spotlight--I wanted to make sure that my story helped and served a purpose. That's why I searched for an organization that worked to raise awareness and helped people deal and get treatment. Whenever I talk about my own experience, I make sure that there are resources available for anyone who needs help. Since No-l-ita is taking on eating disorders as the face of their campaign, it would be thoughtful for them to give eating disorder resources on their website. When you see that billboard, what next? How about providing some information on the issue they're using to get attention? Controversy gets people buzzing. But let's make sure this is not a case of all talk and no action.
Note: We have written to No-l-ita, suggesting that they include health and referral information as part of their campaign. We have not received a response yet, but will keep you updated.
Fashion Statement: Oliviero Toscani
Has the "No Anorexia" Ad Become Pro-Ana Thinspiration?
Photo: Michael O'Neil