Sunday, January 02, 2011


It was with sadness that I read, last week, of the death of Isabelle Caro, the French actress and model who had been suffering from anorexia for 15 years.  Caro, who was 28,  actually died on 17th November but her family announced the death on 29th December.

Isabelle Caro's most recent weight was 33 kilograms [5 st 3lbs] for her height of 1.65 metres [5ft 5"] and, during her long battle with anorexia, her weight had, at times, dropped even lower than that.

Here in Italy she was best known for a photograph by Oliviero Toscani in which her bones stick out of her pathetically thin frame.  The photo was intended to spearhead a publicity campaign warning of the dangers of anorexia but the Italian Advertising Authority had it withdrawn because it was so distressing to look at.  The photo was later used by "pro-ana" websites, the sites that promote anorexia as a lifestyle and should, in my opinion, be banned.

Caro clearly had issues with her mother, who, in the model's own words, did not want her to grow, so both were, in their ways, sick women but of course this kind of attitude to women's bodies must, primarily, be blamed on the media and the fashion industry. 

The announcement of Caro's death came on the same day as we learnt of the fashion designer Alberta Ferretti's decision to use "real" women rather than models to show her new collection.  I salute Ferretti but this gesture is not enough.  The media has to stop showing impossibly thin women as role models, designers need to design clothes that look good off the hanger and all of us need to rethink our attitude to weight in everyday life:

As someone who has had to deal with fluctuating weight all my life, I am constantly amazed by the number of people who, although they would never dream of making a remark about any other physical defect, seem to believe that it is OK to say what they like when it comes to weight.  Well, I have news for them:  it isn't and these remarks can ruin someone's day, cause deep hurt and can lead some vulnerable people to take dieting to dangerous extremes.

I can only suppose that people make these cruel remarks because they believe that weight is something that can be controlled but this is not always true:  not everyone has the time or resources to be able to attend a gym, some people cannot, for health reasons, do vigorous exercise and in some cases the body finds its own "comfortable weight".  The last thing that someone who has learnt to accept that they will always carry a few extra kilos needs is a thoughtless remark - which will, I am ashamed to say, nearly always come from a woman - that makes them feel like a sack of potatoes!

So, this year, let's all think before we make that throwaway remark about someone's weight, shall we?


Betty (picture circa 1951) said...

I had no idea there were websites promoting anorexia as a lifestyle, but I guess I shouldn't be surprised by anything. My great aunt was in the Ziegfeld Follies up until around 1920 or so. They were the show girls of that time period and what always amazes me when I look at the old photos is that a lot of them wouldn't be able to get a job today. They'd be considered too heavy. That includes my great aunt. It makes me wonder what happened over the years to change things. I still remember Twiggy in the 1960's. She caused quite a stir, but we were all fascinated with her. Perhaps that was the beginning of the pencil thin body.

rosaria said...

A truly sad story! Yes, let's rethink how we deal with our bodies, how we accept who and what we are, through and through. It starts in the home, unfortunately, with a perfectionist view of the body and it spreads everywhere.

Extra Weight is a major health issue; and it's about time we all stand up to fight obesity as an international problem, related to our food industry, our farming and ranching methods, our fast food industry, and our media and fashion industry.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Betty. Yes, I was shocked when I first learned about those sites, too, That is very interesting about your great aunt. Maybe it did all begin with Twiggy. Hi, Rosaria. I agree with everything you say.

Marian said...

Sound, sensible advice from you. What a sad, tragic story....a totally unnecessary death based on "perception". I certainly did not realise that there were websites promoting anorexia. We need to rethink this whole skinny model thing and get back to reality....and the designers need to acknowledge older models with more "Rubinesque" figures.

Leslie: said...

It is indeed shocking that even with all the information about anorexia and bulimia, young girls (and young men as well) get sucked into it. It is a mental illness that definitely nees to be addressed even more than it already is. Plus on the other spectrum, I agree that it's best to keep one's comments to oneself regarding any type of size.

Louise | Italy said...

Interesting post. I think these days the question of overweight has become almost a moral one. Just as some people don't think twice about berating a person for wearing a fur coat, others believe that overweight is a.) controllable and b.) due to some kind of moral laxity, and so they can make comments from the moral high ground. What disturbs me is the plethora of problems behind extremes of weight: emotional, physical, educational, economic.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I found your interesting blog through Betty's blog. I enjoyed looking at your posts as my husband is a native Calabrian,and his family have many of the same foods and traditions as Sicily.

It was very sad to read of this model's death. I have a friend who almost lost her daughter to anorexia and I know it is a lifelong issue.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Marian and welcome. I completely agree with what you say. Hi, Leslie. Yes, terrible how young girls, in particular, are influenced by thses super-thin images. Welcome, Louise. I agree with you, too, though I would show my disapproval of a fur coat. Hi, Pat and welcome. I'm so sorry about what your friend and her daughter have been going through. I'm glad you find my blog interesting.

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

I have always been small .. I am 5'1" and a tiny bit .. but in weight wise , I have been as small as 7st .. but that is when I was as young as 17.. ... but how many people told me " you are so thin"....Not many!! and now I am about 8st something .. and 37 years older .. and my mum greets me with " hello Anne .. you have put on weight" .. .. thanks mum !!

Winchester whisperer said...

Her photos were horrible, weren't they? I am very sorry for the poor girl.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

You are fortunate, Anne. Had to laugh at your mother's comment! Hi, WW. Yes, very distressing to see. Poor woman.


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