Sep 25, 2007
Reading time
3 minutes
Download the article
Click here to print
Text size
aA+ aA-

Doctors, fashion world divided over Italian anorexia ad

Sep 25, 2007

ROME, Sept 25, 2007 (AFP) - An Italian advertising campaign featuring photos of an emaciated girl won praise Tuesday, September 25th from designers and the government for targeting anorexia, but campaigners warned it could encourage the disease.

The Italian advertising campaign featuring photos of an emaciated girl Photo : Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Italian photographer Oliviero Toscani, famed for his shock campaigns for clothing company Benetton, launched a new campaign Monday -- in the middle of Milan fashion week -- featuring the naked body of an emaciated young woman.

The ads for Italian clothing firm "No-l-ita", which have been published on double-page spreads in the press and are posted on billboards across Italian cities, feature the slogan "No" to anorexia underneath.

"Well done Oliviero Toscani, his campaign is very effective," said European Affairs Minister Emma Bonino on Tuesday, while Health Minister Livia Turco said she "appreciated and supported" the photos.

But Emilia Costa, the director of a centre for eating disorders in Rome, said the campaign "appears to be using ill people as publicity", according to the ANSA news agency.

Endocrinologist Fabrizio Jacoangeli said it was hard to judge what impact the photos would have but warned the campaign risked creating "competition" among anorexic people to be like the woman in the photograph.

The view from the Milan catwalks was positive, however.

"Finally someone tells the truth, which is that (anorexia) is not the fault of the fashion industry but a psychological problem," said designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana.

Giorgio Armani added at the end of his fashion show: "I think that these campaigns, with such harsh images, are just and well-timed."

At the end of last year, the government, the Italian Fashion Federation and a group bringing together Italian designers in Rome and Milan adopted an "anti-anorexia" manifesto to try to promote a healthier kind of beauty.

Meanwhile in Paris Tuesday, the French actress and anorexia sufferer who modelled for Toscani's campaign, Isabelle Caro, said she had wanted to alert young women to the dangers of being too thin.

"Thinness leads to death and it is anything but beautiful," the 27-year-old, who has suffered from anorexia since the age of 13, told RTL radio.

Caro currently weighs 32 kilogrammes (70 pounds) for a height of 1.65 metres. She says she has gained two kilos since the photo shoot, and five in the past year.

"I thought this could be a chance to use my suffering to get a message across, and finally put an image on what thinness represents and the danger it leads to -- which is death," she said.

Caro said taking part in the campaign was a way "to make people react, for young girls who see this to think: 'Oh, so that's what lies behind the beautiful clothes, the hair, the image that we are shown of fashion'."

Over the past 15 years, Caro has been repeatedly hospitalised as her weight fell to dangerously low levels.

"You feel as if you master everything, that you are in total control, and then little by little you fall into this hellish spiral, a spiral of death," she said in a separate interview with France 3 television.

Copyright © 2022 AFP. All rights reserved. All information displayed in this section (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the contents of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presses.