I have a post up at Feministing today, on the recent death of Isabelle Caro, who became a living symbol of the ravages of eating disorders when she was photographed for an anti-anorexia billboard campaign. The photograph showed Caro, naked and wasted away, her bones protruding and her tailbone an open wound. And yet, even after that 2007 campaign, designers continued to hire her. She was made a judge on France’s Next Top Model. As much sympathy as I have for Caro and for those who suffer from eating disorders, I have nothing but contempt for those who continue to turn a profit from our belief that skinniness, and suffering for it, is beautiful:
I become even angrier when I stop to think about the backdrop against which the media coverage of Caro’s death is happening. It’s perfectly reasonable for us to shake our heads sadly at Caro’s death and to lament the illness that caused it. Media coverage of her death should acknowledge the tragic scope and severity of eating disorders and of course, her suffering should serve as a cautionary tale – she wanted it to.
But let’s not forget that today is January 4th. It’s the time of year when women are told, by every mainstream women’s media outlet there is, that we must lose weight. This is a culture in which women are told, from the moment they’re old enough to understand complete sentences, that they’re not beautiful, not valuable, unless they’re skinny. That constant, unrelenting message gets louder throughout the year – as summer approaches, for example – and at certain points in a woman’s life – her wedding or immediately post-childbirth – but it’s never louder than it is right now. The start of a new year is the time to start a diet, to work out compulsively and without pleasure, to lose weight until you look like a model, until you look like a Black Swan, until… Until what? When are we thin enough? When are we too thin? When did people finally decide that Caro was too thin, too sick, to be held up as a figure of female beauty?
You can read the rest here. I wish you all a happy, healthy New Year.