Ana Carolina Reston's tragedy
This weekend's edition of The Observer news magazine included the most comprehensive account I've yet read about Ana Carolina Reston, the second model who died from anorexia, last year.
It's an even more agonizing story that I ever realized, and the article is very good about identifying the fashion industry's culpability in this model's death.
Just a few excerpts:
This comment by the model's mother broke my heart:
Re: Ana Carolina Reston's tragedy
This thought-provoking article reveals that the seeds of Miss Reston's disaster were planted at the very beginning of her career, when she entered a beauty contest, and--as her mother states--"won because she was slim and elegant."
The problems began (and the consequences of society's emaciated standard were already felt) right at that very moment.
If the winner of this beauty contest (and of all beauty contests) had "won because she was curvy and elegant," then this entire story would have had a different ending. Unfortutnately, Reston's first aesthetic lesson was that she was valued for being thin--which is the most pernicious lesson that any young girl can learn.
If natural curves, instead of unnatural emaciation, still embodied the ideal of beauty, then a different girl, with a fuller figure, would have won this contest, and gone on to become a model. For girls like Ana, the lesson of such a choice would have been that voluptuous femininity, not skeletal androgyny, is the ideal that they should adopt. Then, even if Ana had become a model, she would never have been humiliated for being insufficiently gaunt.
As it was, this girl--in a predicament that is familiar to most readers, from the painful sagas of Kate Dillon and other anorexia survivors--was told by irresponsible fashion professionals with warped perspectives that she wasn't emaciated enough, even though she was already endangering her health by depriving herself of basic sustenance. Unlike Kate Dillon, however, Miss Reston never freed herself from the industry's grip, and died as a result.
Note also this statement, near the end of the article:
in the weeks that followed [Reston's death], the deaths of two further Brazilian girls in similar circumstances, one a fashion student, brought further calls for the regulation of this notoriously mysterious business.
Were these girls' deaths publicized in any way? Not at all. This is the first time that we are hearing of them. These girls are far more representative of the majority of the fashion industry's victims--the tens of thousands of anorexia fatalities who are not models, not "glamorous," but ordinary women who try to emulate the toxic standard imposed by the industry, and die as a result, ignored by the media that told them how they must look.
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