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Catwalk Culture, Casualty Catastrophe
On a daily basis we are exposed to a multitude of skinny women on catwalks, in magazines, on posters and in adverts. What we don't see is the drastic diets, the tragic illness and the psychological trauma some of these women are suffering in the name of ‘beauty’.
With designs flying fresh off the catwalk every season the modelling industry is so busy with their sewing machines that nobody is looking out for the fragile young women who are suffering for fashion.
Isabelle Caro is one particularly tragic case. Isabelle battled with anorexia from the young age of 13. She began modelling during her last year of high school and despite her obviously frail physique was told immediately to lose 10 kilograms (approx. 1st 8lb).
Isabelle decided that she wanted to use her misfortune to try and help raise awareness of the disease. She bravely featured in a very risky and controversial campaign. This was no easy move for her, as anorexics suffer from deep psychological body issues, however Isabelle Caro saw a cause more important than her insecurities that she believed was worth fighting for.
Posters of Isabelle’s malnourished 4st 8lb body were pasted around Milan on the eve of fashion week. This sent the modelling world in to shock. The Italian advertising governing body banned the poster shortly after, however it was too late, the images had gone viral, sparking much awareness and debate on the topic of modelling and anorexia.
Isabelle Caro was not happy with her body, she was quoted saying "It is everything but beauty, the complete opposite. It is an unvarnished photo, without make-up. The message is clear – I have psoriasis (a skin condition - on her lower back), a pigeon chest, the body of an elderly person."
Isabelle did much work to help warn women of the dangers of anorexia. She ran a blog that highlighted the dangers and offered interactive support to suffers, frequently made TV appearances and wrote an autobiography.
Sadly at age 28 Isabelle passed away.
However, it is not just famous catwalk models that suffer from anorexia. Many young girls unfortunately succumb to the pressures of societies image of ’the perfect woman’. Anorexia is still widely misunderstood, it is not just a ‘diet gone wrong’ or about wanting to look fashionably thin, instead anorexia is a manifestation of deep psychological pain and a way to assert some control over an adult world which feels out of control. This also helps to explain why it is mostly associated with teenagers.
1 in 250 women and 1 in 2000 men experience anorexia at some point - NHS. These figures are shockingly high and something needs to be done.
Anorexia is one of the most deadly mental illnesses. A person suffering from any eating disorder cannot help what they feel, but what they must do is talk about it. The best cure is support from family, friends and medical professionals.
Depending on the personal view of the individual you speak to, you will find a whole variety of opinions on the cause of this illness. Some people blame our ‘size-zero-culture’, claiming that the images and messages we are exposed to in the media and general society cause people to feel pressured to be skinny, in an attempt to be accepted socially. However, others argue that the cause is deep personal and psychological trauma or distress that causes the sufferer to starve themselves to either maintain some control or punish themselves. In reality it is a combination of the two.
Every day we are bombarded by images of very thin women, with perfect hair and beautiful make up, however this is not a realistic representation of women. The models we see have been airbrushed. Image’s of Jessica Alba have shown her before and after airbrushing. The editor has made Miss.Alba more tanned, with shinier hair, redder lips and darker eyes. Still the real shame is that they have taken a beautiful real hourglass figure that is natural and womanly and shrunk it down, giving her an unrealistically small waist.
When young girls see images like this they believe that this is what women are meant to look like. Jessica Alba is represented as a successful and confident woman, this perception of her character combined with the airbrushed image gives the impression that to be successful and confident you must be also be very skinny.
We need to change who we look up to as confident women, because as confident and successful as Jessica Alba is this false representation of her image can be damaging to girls self-esteem, and she is just one of many examples. I think a better role model would be comedian Sarah Millican, she is a confident woman, who even manages to go on shows such as 8 Out Of 10 Cats and Mock The Week and go head-to-head with comedians such as Jimmy Carr and stands her ground. She jokes about her appearance and has a relaxed attitude. Other fantastic female role models that we should be celebrating include women such as; singer Adele, writer J.K.Rowling, athlete Venus Williams, entrepreneur Chelsea Handler. All these women have become incredibly successful in their own fields. This is the image we should be encouraging and celebrating. Happiness and self-esteem based on achievement, not dress size!