With piercing eyes and jutting shoulder bones, an emaciated, naked young woman stares down from a billboard just erected in the center of Milan, Italy. The woman, a French actress, says she's been anorexic for 15 years and weighs a startling 64 pounds. She's posing naked for Italian fashion label NOLITA to help raise awareness about the deadly eating disorder during the city's world-famous Fashion Week.
A disturbing photograph of a naked anorexic woman, blown up to traffic-stopping scale, has been drawing shocked gasps from passing Milanese.
The photograph of 27-year-old Frenchwoman Isabelle Caro, who weighs 31kg (4st 12lb), bears the legend "No Anorexia" and the slogan of the Italian womenswear brand Nolita, for which it is an advertisement.
The Nolita campaign has been given the blessing of the Italian ministry of health, with health minister Livia Turco saying the image promotes responsibility towards the problem of anorexia.
The man behind the image is fashion photographer Oliviero Toscani, who was responsible for the controversial Benetton advertising campaigns of the 1980s and 1990s, including his 1992 portrait of dying Aids patient David Kirby.
Flash & Partners, owners of Nolita, have said that the image aims to raise awareness of an illness "caused in most cases by the stereotypes imposed by the world of fashion".
The billboards, launched during Milan fashion week, have met with a distinct froideur from many in the fashion industry, who dispute the theory that blame for anorexia can be laid wholly at their door. Caro, they point out, is not a model, but says that she has suffered from anorexia since she was 13 because of a "difficult childhood".
Designer Giorgio Armani queried the link between fashion and anorexia, commenting that "even people who take no notice of fashion get anorexic", while designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana described anorexia as a psychiatric problem with "nothing to do with fashion".
Isabelle Caro, author of a blog about her battle with anorexia, said she had appeared in the campaign "to show young people how dangerous this illness is".
Eating Disorders in HollywoodSeptember 28, 2007
"The Insider" looks at the deadly diet disorders that threaten young girls.
As the world reacts to the controversial anti-anorexia billboard erected in Milan, Italy, this week, "The Insider" looks at eating disorders in the entertainment world.
Young Hollywood is speaking out about the startling billboard images, designed to raise awareness about anorexia.
"I really hope girls see that and it shows them to have a healthy body image," AMANDA BYNES told us, while "Hannah Montana" star MILEY CYRUS added: "It's gross. I think the skinny fad needs to be over."
EMMY ROSSUM remarked that "people really need to feel good about themselves and their bodies," while LAUREN CONRAD pointed out that "it's a really big problem in Hollywood and one that needs to be addressed." It's no secret a number of stars have suffered from the disease, both privately and publicly -- from PORTIA de ROSSI to BRITTANY SNOW and MARY-KATE OLSEN, we have the latest on stars that have fallen victim to past eating disorders.
Most recently, the young and talented Brittany Snow opened up to MTVU.com about her past issues with eating disorders, saying they began at 12-years-old when she joined the cast of "Guiding Light."
"I remember looking around at all these women who were on the soap opera who were working out and dieting," she says, and soon jumped on the bandwagon.
"It kind of progressed into this thing where I needed to always be dieting and losing weight and more weight," she reveals. "It became my life and I didn't have any friends and this was definitely my best friend and I held on to it really tight."
Portia de Rosse admitted in Vogue that she suffered from a past eating disorder, and other TV stars like "Reba"'s SCARLETT POMERS and "The Sopranos" actress JAMIE-LYNN SIGLER have also come forward to discuss their own struggles with food and how they're doing in their recoveries.
Pomers is now well on the road to recovery after suffering from anorexia for over a year and reaching a shocking 73 pounds. "What my life is now is so much happier and better," she says.
Mini-mogul Mary-Kate Olsen made headlines when she fell ill and entered a facility to address her disorder in 2005. She emerged from treatment weighing 90 pounds -- 10 more than she had entered with.
"Growing Pains" actress TRACEY GOLD was one of the first actresses to come forward with her eating disorder, withering down to a life-threatening 80 pounds 15 years ago. "I didn't eat," she has said. "I looked in the mirror and I was like, 'God I look awful.'"
But Tracey eventually bounced back and today she is a healthy mother of three and is still close with her TV family.
Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who made a name for herself as mob daughter Meadow Soprano on the HBO hit "The Sopranos," admits that she also suffered from anorexia, once weighing only 90 pounds. "It's a tough thing to talk about, but it's actually therapeutic for me," she says. She went on to become a spokesperson for the National Eating Disorders Association.
"I'm not completely over it, and I'm in a business where you have to be pretty conscious of the way you look," she says, "but I'm not going to compromise my health and happiness for it."
"I think the pressures on starlets to be so thin needs to change," says LYNN GREFE, CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association.
She feels so many women are competing against each other in a lot of ways. "It's out of control and it's unhealthy," Grefe says. "It's a legitimate mental illness that is absolutely treatable."
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