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Say no to anorexia: irresponsible?

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Say no to anorexia: irresponsible?

Shocking images? Yes. But is it not irresponsible to suggest anorexia is a choice? 

When this image from Brazilian model agency, Star, appeared in my facebook timeline, I certainly stopped and looked twice.

It had the desired effect: I was shocked.

This image is one of three images being used by the model agency in an advertising campaign aimed at persuading the fashion industry to say ‘no’ to anorexia.

Each ad contains two images: a picture of a model in a fashion designer’s sketch and a picture of a ‘real’ model.

The fashion sketch is typical of those found in fashion houses the world over, depicting women with long lean limbs and exaggerated proportions. The corresponding images of the ‘real’ models show women with the same proportions as those depicted in the sketch.

Underneath the ad is the tagline: ‘You are not a sketch. Say no to anorexia.’

The models are not actual models but women who have been airbrushed to add the unrealistic proportions of the sketches.

The images have an enormous impact when you first see them – perhaps, because we’re only too aware that real fashion models are not a million miles from the proportions depicted, and that the waif-like frame is increasingly popular and desired in the fashion industry.

But while I believe the ads can effectively raise awareness, the tagline seems wholly inappropriate.

The tagline ‘you are not a sketch. Say not to anorexia’ indicates the ads appear to be aimed at models, or women buying clothes rather than actual fashion designers.

And how realistic is it to assume someone can just say no to anorexia?

Anorexia is a disease which cannot be turned on and off. It is a serious mental health disorder.

According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) girls and women are ten times more likely than boys and men to suffer from anorexia or bulimia.

Anorexia is a mental health illness caused by many factors in a person’s life – it is not a choice.

This article in Psychology Today highlights the issues that contribute to the occurrence of anorexia.

‘…it may be useful to think about anorexia in the context of other physical and mental disorders, and to think about the factors that affect the beginning of anorexia and its ending.

‘All illnesses and disorders are affected by both heredity and environment, and might be located somewhere on a spectrum according to the extent to which environment, lifestyle choices, and/or what we might call ‘personal responsibility’ play a role, in terms of precipitating or avoiding the illness…’

‘It is always difficult to disentangle genetic and environmental factors, and in anorexia there has generally been an overemphasis on social and familial factors at the expense of genetic ones: the espousal of the thin ideal in the fashion industry and the media has perhaps most notably been blamed.’

I am no medical expert, and I have not suffered with an eating disorder, but it takes only a few moments to research anorexia to understand it is nowhere near as simplistic as the ad suggests.

And while Star model agency has caused a stir with it’s anti-anorexia ads, I can’t help but consider it irresponsible and ill-informed.

Is it not time to target instead, the designers who insist on making clothes for women with starved bodies?

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