(CNN) — An Italian fashion label has stirred debate by featuring a naked, anorexic model on billboards across the country in an effort to raise awareness of the illness.
French actress Isabelle Caro, 27, who has suffered anorexia for 15 years and weighs just 31 kilograms appears in the adverts next to the slogan “No Anorexia.”
The campaign, for fashion label Nolita, Flash&Partners is intended to show the reality of anorexia — an illness the company says that “in most cases is caused by the stereotypes imposed on women by the fashion world.”
It is set to coincide with Milan Fashion Week, which, along with Madrid, has banned skinny models from its catwalks.
The campaign, by photographer Oliviero Toscani, has been met with mixed response.
While some have praised the adverts for bringing the issue of anorexia out into the open, others believe it could act as a trigger in some people already suffering from the disease.
Luisa Bertoncello, managing director of Flash&Partners said she was “shocked by the explicitness and blatant truth” the photo conveys.
“Today though, the intention of many companies is to use advertising as an instrument to promote social awareness of social evils,” she said.
Toscani, who is known for producing confrontational images, said: “I’ve been looking into the problem of anorexia for years. Who’s responsible? Communication in general? Television? Fashion?
“So it’s very interesting that in the end a fashion company has understood the importance of the problem, and with full awareness has found the courage to take the risk that this campaign involves.”
Italian minister for health, Livia Turco has also backed the campaign.
“An initiative like this can effectively open an original and privileged communications channel with young people with a message of great impact that can promote responsibility towards the problem of anorexia,” she said.
But Fabiola De Clercq, head of the Italian Association for the Study of Anorexia told The Times newspaper that the image could encourage young women to copy Caro and “compete for extreme thinness”.
The organizers of Milan Fashion Week, which runs from September 22 to 29, have also stated that the campaign followed their own against anorexia, the paper reported. E-mail to a friend