Shockingly skinny

Ad campaign ignites debate in the fashion world

Editorial Staff
October 4, 2007

Milan-born photographer Olivierio Toscani’s new ad campaign is on the tip of everyone’s tongue in Milan. His photo for the cutting-edge women’s label Nolita has drawn a mix of applause and anger from the fashion world.


The shocking image, a young anorexic actress in the nude, was plastered on billboards all over the city—just in time for fashion week in Milan. Organizers of the event said the poster was in line with their own campaign against anorexia.


Leading fashion designers reacted positively to the Nolita anti-anorexia campaign, including Giorgio Armani, who commented that ‘Anorexia has reasons which are not linked to fashion. Even people who take no notice of fashion can become anorexic’. Dolce & Gabbana denied fashion’s involvement in causing the disease ‘Anorexia has nothing to do with fashion but is a psychiatric problem’.

Health minister Livia Turco praised the Nolita ad because it ‘opens an original channel for communication’ and ‘encourages people to shoulder their responsibilities in the area of anorexia’.

However, the majority of health officials have been less supportive of the campaign’s shock tactics. According to Fabiola De Clercq, head of the ABA association for research into anorexia and bulimia, the campaign would not have the right effect on girls suffering from the illness: ‘They could feel envious of the anorexic model photographed in an ad and think that they too can get thinner. Done this way, this campaign has no sense’.


Nonetheless, the ad did help one young woman suffering from anorexia: the model, Isabelle Caro, a 27-year-old weighing only 31 kilos. Caro admitted to fashion magazine Vanity Fair that ‘I’ve hidden myself and covered myself for too long. Now I want to show myself fearlessly, even though I know my body arouses repugnance’.

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