Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The story of Isabelle Caro


Oliviero Toscani's Nolita billboard ad featuring Isabelle Caro

Model, Isabelle Caro, an anorexic who weighs just 55 pounds, has become the face of anorexia. Her eating disorder stems from a bad childhood and has gone on for more than 13 years of her frail life. She stripped bare for an Italian campaign against anorexia. But the billboard that stunned the world does not even depict Caro at her thinnest. She commented on posing for the campaign...
"I thought this could be a chance to use my suffering to get a message across, and finally put an image on what thinness represents and the danger it leads to -- which is death...to make people react, for young girls who see this to think: 'Oh, so that's what lies behind the beautiful clothes, the hair, the image that we are shown of fashion.'"
Isabelle Caro, close-up from Nolita billboard ad, September, 2007
"I’ve hidden myself and covered myself for too long. Now I want to show myself fearlessly, even though I know my body arouses repugnance. I want to recover because I love life and the riches of the universe. I want to show young people how dangerous this illness is."
Isabelle, 2007

Caro's anorexia began when she was 13. Her mother, she says, was seriously depressed and her father was largely absent. She spent her childhood in isolation, home schooled and kept away from others.
"I had a very complicated childhood, very difficult, very painful," she said. "My mother's big phobia was that I would grow. She spent her time measuring my height. She wouldn't let me go outside because she'd heard that fresh air makes children grow, and that's why I was kept at home. It was completely traumatic."
Isabelle, 2007

Her trauma crystallized into illness as she watched her mother struggle with a 70-pound gas canister. She gives an account of what she remembers. 
"She said, 'Do you know how heavy this is?' " Caro said. "I weighed 10 pounds more, and I kept thinking 'I'm heavier than that heavy gas cylinder so I am a burden on my mother.' And that's when I thought about wanting to lose weight, to stop my growth. I dropped to about 58 pounds. My meal was reduced to two squares of chocolate and five cornflakes. That's all I ate all day."
Isabelle's psychological issues developed with her interactions with her mother. She realized that if she were heavy she'd be a burden. She wanted acceptance and never felt like there was anything she could do to gain that feeling of love.  
"That Christmas [when Isabelle was 13 years old] I asked for some scales. I saw I'd dropped a few pounds so I started eating less and less. My parents were so worried I spent hours weighing myself that mum broke my scales."
"I'd panic if I even put on a few grams. I rejected everything I wanted and everything that made me happy for some ideal of a pure life. It was an absolute hell - that's what this disease does to you."
 Caro, 2007
"Back then I had a very close relationship with my mother, which led me down the path of anorexia. She wanted me to be her little girl for ever. So as I started puberty I hated the idea that my body was going to change. I wanted to have the body of a child for ever, to make my mother happy."


When asked about her self-image in an interview, she seemed to be aware of how other people really saw her. People often just stare... 
"A skeleton. I see a skeleton. But one on the road to recovery. I know that it will take time, but I would rather go slowly and surely rather than gain weight rapidly and then fall back into losing it again," she said. "I have to get used to how I look with more weight."
Caro, 2007
"I have suffered enormously from the way people look at me. When I first moved to Marseille, nobody spoke to me, people stared at me. I stopped going out of my house. In cafes and bars they refuse to serve me. And that's why I refused to talk about it for such a long time. I was so afraid of people judging me. People just think you just stop eating but that is not what anorexia is. You don't just decide from one day to the next to stop eating. It's very hard. It's real suffering, and it goes deep."

Isabelle, 2008
"When I see myself now, I say, 'what a horror.' I'm trying to get out of it, and I want young women to know that is possible."

"Thinness leads to death and it is anything but beautiful. You start out with this feeling as if you can master everything, that you are in total control, and then little by little you fall into this hellish spiral, a spiral of death."
Isabelle was hospitalized for the first time when she was 20. At her worst, in 2006, she slipped into a coma, weighing just 51 pounds. It took a coma and her almost dying to realize that she wanted to live and start doing something about it. 
Caro, 2007
"I'd have painful cramps every morning and I would crawl to the fridge to eat something just so I had enough strength to get in the shower. And then my body was so tender and so ravaged by needles from the transfusions that every drop of water hurt."
In 2008, Caro began her recovery.
Isabelle, 2008
"Every day I fight the demons of anorexia... I'm eating more calories every day and it's really hard, but I know I'll make it."
"I still eat almost nothing, but I've stopped vomiting. I have started to distinguish tastes of things. I have tried ice-cream - it's delicious."

15 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Nevermind the comments above...

    It was announced today on a Swiss website that Isabelle Caro died on November 17th. The official cause of death wasn't published.

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  3. wow. you really are medusa. leave her alone. stop being dumb. everyone needs to know about isabelle and anorexia so why should it matter who's blog it's on.

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  6. Hi Medusa,

    Why do you ask Ashley to remove this post? It's interesting that we readers enjoy such a story about anorexia. You did not post it. Somebody does. And now you ask them to remove. Ridiculous.

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  7. I just read YAHOO NEWS Dec 31, 2010. Rest in peace, Isabelle Caro. You are in my thoughts & prayers.

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  8. Medusa,
    I find your comments rather amusing, as I've just watched 2 videos by CBS News on Isabelle Caro. The information in this article was actually taken from them. I am not denying that you wrote this, but in doing so you've done the very thing you're fighting against. You look ridiculous; get over yourself.

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  9. Like OMG Medusa. Get a life! Who cares if she put some of the same information up as you did. Pretty sure you just copied quotes and pictures. You are not Picasso! Get over it and move on. Sorry if this is mean, but you are acting like a two year old.

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  10. Medusa, I just looked at your blog. Very nice, but the blogs are different. Hope you guys work it out. It just seems petty to fight over something so stupid. RIP Isabelle. Everyone have a safe New Year :)

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  11. this article was published on this website since March 2010.give it a break medusa..stop being a baby.

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  12. Medusa... First, the post is not a "verbatim" copy, second, you want her blog shut down on the basis that Ashley have STOLEN the same photos as you? You list your sector as the legal profession on your ID - I assume you will remove your own post's copyrighted material, and, if not, shut it down?

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  13. Anorexia is a serious problem for young people, and it is always interesting to talk about it..

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  14. Marissa, Anorexia is not a problem for young people, it is a problem for people.
    A lot of people in their 40s live with anorexia.

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