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Turning a blind eye

Posted Dec 29 2010 9:37pm
Model and actress Isabelle Caro, most famous for posing her emaciated body in a 2008 anti-anorexia billboard, died at age 28.

Her goal, says the Los Angeles Times obituary , was to show others the dangers and horrors of anorexia in order to prevent the illness.  A noble and honorable goal, to be sure--but Caro knew and lived these dangers and horrors of anorexia, day in and day out.  Still she could not shake her illness and instead died at age 28.

The billboard that flung Caro into the limelight was produced by fashion company Nolita, in an effort to raise awareness about anorexia in the fashion industry.  Aside from the fact that I'm not convinced of the relationship between anorexia and fashion, Nolita was happy to use Caro's wasted body in their ads.  They were happy to use the shock value and run with it.  Yes, the company likely meant well by it, but what was that phrase about the road to hell being paved with good intentions?

After the April 2008 billboard, Caro went on to be a guest judge on "Top Model France," to write a book and song lyrics, to appear in television and film.  All while deathly ill with anorexia.

When I heard of Caro's untimely death, all I could think was: these people were using this poor girl.  They knew she was sick.  It was obvious just by looking at her.  They knew she was dying from a lethal illness and yet the chose to look the other way.  Maybe they figured that as long as Caro thought she was fine, then she had to be fine.  She was "trying" to get better, but your heart, your liver, your immune system don't much give a damn about trying.

It was like what I used to tell people: I'm working on it.  Which is all well and good, but Caro's and my lack of progress should have made it damn clear to anyone not blind that no progress was actually being made.

Yeah, I'm angry.  Media outlets and corporations were all too happy to let Caro continue on her merry way and not actually address her illness.  I'm guessing some of them told her she should gain weight and eat some more.  Gee, you don't say.  Caro had probably never heard that advice before, right?  If they cared, they should have refused to cast her until she was healthy.  It's hard enough to give up an eating disorder even when it's robbing you of everything in your life.  But when you can have the life you want and the eating disorder? 

The immediate cause of her death wasn't disclosed.  But the media industry--the very ones Caro turned to in her efforts to warn others of the dangers of anorexia--did quite a bit to contribute to her death.  She very well might have died if she didn't become famous.  Yet the people who knew and worked with her had an opportunity to close down any path but wellness and recovery.  And they didn't.

That's what makes me the most angry and the most sad.  That so many people are willing to ignore such a blatant disorder and look the other way.
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