This is Isabelle Caro, a 27-year-old woman with anorexia, whose picture is being displayed all over Milan during fashion week as part of an ad campaign for No.l.ita, an Italian clothing brand. Cheers to Caro for bravely showing people what her body really looks like. More cheers to the cities of Madrid and Milan for banning starving models from their runways. And yet more cheers to No.l.ita for acknowledging the connection between fashion advertising and eating disorders — even if their website is still full of images of unusually thin, hypersexualized women who seem to carry all their weight in their hair.Now for the jeers.
Jeers to Milan City Council official Tiziana Maiolo for going on the record with this statement:
“I don’t think men want to see skeletal women and I want to say to women who are fuller- figured there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. They are undoubtedly the prettiest women about and the most intelligent.”
I was with you part of the way there, Tiziana. But A) what “men want to see” really, really should not be the standard by which we judge the cultural acceptability of different women’s bodies, and B) there are still plenty of ugly, dumb fat women, just as there are plenty of ugly, dumb thin women. I can’t stand it when people attempting to make vaguely fat-positive statements resort to slagging off thin women or making unrealistic claims about the fabulousness of larger women. (I swear, I’m gonna punch the next fat woman who publicly self-identitifies as a “goddess” or a “diva” or a “queen” [the Queen excepted, of course] instead of a normal, mortal woman who happens to be fat.) The point here is not to set up a contest among very thin women and less thin women and moderately fat women and very fat women to see which category is Prettiest, Smartest, Kindest to Animals, whatever. The point is to acknowledge that we’re all equally fucking human.
Jeers to Giorgio Armani, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana for still not acknowledging that the fashion industry has any affect on the incidence of eating disorders among young women. With extra-special bonus jeers to Gabbana for this remark:
Even people who take no notice of fashion get anorexic.
Yes, and those people? Live in a culture that takes entirely too much notice of fashion. They see images of ultra-thin models and actors every day — images that normalize an extremely rare body type — even if they never pick up a copy of Vogue or turn on a television. It’s not something you have to pay attention to. You’re soaking in it, dimwit.
And finally, jeers to No.l.ita for the superfluous periods in their brand name. Come on.
Now let’s talk about that image — with every good wish to Isabelle Caro that she may finally overcome the eating disorder she’s suffered from for well over a decade. What do you think of this ad campaign, readers?