Thursday, December 30, 2010

Starving to Death in Designer Duds

Anorexia is perhaps the most bizarre of modern illnesses in a world where millions of people are starving. Isabelle Caro, a French actress and model whose emaciated image in a shocking Italian ad campaign helped rivet global attention on the problem of anorexia in the fashion world and beyond, has died at the age of 28.

In 2006, Ana Carolina Reston, a 21-year-old Brazilian model, also died from the eating disorder. She was 5'8" and weighed 88 pounds. Italian photographer Oliviero Toscani was inspired to produce a 2007 billboard campaign which featured a naked photo of Ms. Caro with vertebrae and facial bones protruding under the slogan "No Anorexia."

Her affliction began at age 13, and she weighed 59 pounds at 5'4" when the famous photo was taken. She wrote a book in 2008, "The Little Girl Who Didn't Want to Get Fat," served as a member of the jury on Top Model France, and worked as a film and television actress. She ended an online video with words of advice for aspiring models: "Believe in life." How sad that she was unable to take her own advice.

Some groups working with anorexics feared that the attention her ads garnered would encourage others with the disorder. Images of Caro appeared on so-called pro-ana, or pro-anorexia websites including one with her death notice and photo captioned, "die young, stay pretty."

The international fashion industry has been unsuccessful in attempts to address the health issues facing ultra-thin models. London Fashion Week organizers dropped plans in 2008 for international health certificates for models, while French industry representatives signed a government-backed charter pledging to encourage healthy body images by promoting "a diversity of body representations," but industry executives around the world refused to cooperate. A French bill that would have cracked down on websites advising anorexics how to starve was passed by Parliament's lower house but never considered in the Senate. I don't know of any such efforts in the US.

Needless to say, the effects of advertising campaigns featuring women who resemble Auschwitz survivors continue to be devastating to teenagers and young women worldwide, and their families. As long as this dangerous practice persists and emaciated women are considered the beauty ideal, many more will starve themselves to death, convinced that food and their own bodies are their enemies.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Joy To My World!

'Tis the season for Christmas brag letters, and they have begun to arrive in sickening splendor, so I thought I would write one of my own. I don't know the people I'll be writing about, but since the letters I receive never bear any resemblance to persons living or dead, it shouldn't matter.


As another joyous year draws to a close, I want to share our good fortune with all you less fortunate beings so that you can eat your collective hearts out rejoice with us.

The first major event of 2010 was that I finally changed my name legally to the name I have used forever, as Donna was not nearly fantastical enough for the exotic creature I have become since I hitchhiked away from the family farm and never looked back. I am now Marcella in both word and deed, the name by which most of you know me, and which suits my fabulousness so perfectly.

In September, James and I bought the ketch of our dreams and look forward to sailing around the world with a small crew of 100, including a manicurist and colonic hydrotherapist, of course. There was some tough competition for this boat, but we outbid that upstart Donald Trump and the entire Hilton family, and she is now ours. Bon voyage to us, darlings! We have christened her "The Odyssey," naturalement, with many gallons of the best champagne.

Our eldest son, Lafcadio, the Captain of Industry, was lauded by Business Week as a Superstar Businessman. His Fortune 500 Company is indeed fortunate to have him. His filly, Heart O' Gold, won the Triple Crown this year as well, and his lovely wife, Loma Linda, gave birth to a baby with two heads, both of them gorgeous, proving the old adage that two heads are indeed better than one.

Our second son, Olfactorio, the perfume industry genius, launched his new fragrance in Paris and Milan, named for his loving mama, Marcella. He confided to me that he always knew that if what I have could be bottled, it would make billions. I'm so proud.

Our daughter, Cinderella, who washes dishes at the best five-star restaurant in New York, caught the attention of Georgio Armani and will be strutting the runway in his next show. Even a jealous mother dishpan hands can't keep a beautiful woman down.

Finally, our youngest son, Destino, who is twelve, has received early acceptance to Harvard. By a wonderful coincidence, he also won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Pulitzer and the Library of Congress Living Legend Award. It's been quite an exciting year for our 7th grader.

2010 saw my wonderful James installed as President of the World, and if I may be immodest for a second, yours truly was featured in a delightful spread in Town and Country for my work with starving orphans in Rwanda. I am told that my generous gifts of designer clothing, worn only once, were much appreciated, and I plan to continue sending them all the jeweled evening purses their little hearts desire.

Our Christmas roundup letter would not be complete without mentioning that our French Poodle, Marie Antoinette, won Best in Show for the 4th time at Westminster this year.

The Ming vase I dug up while vacationing on the beach in Aruba has been added to the vast collections at the Louvre, and darling James surprised me with the Hope Diamond for our anniversary, just a little something to flaunt wear while sailing the Southern Seas in our ketch.

Our main residence, Valhalla, is being photographed for the March issue of Castle Homes Magazine, and we're all so very excited. Our racing silks won the Grand Prix at Monaco in April for the first time, and we donated the specially-built mechanical marvel to the Smithsonian amidst tremendous international brouhaha.

My toenail clippings were sealed into a Space Capsule to be opened in 100 years, along with photographs, of course, and I owe it all to darling James, without whom I would still be a little farm girl from a Red State, trying to become Miss Rheingold. It makes me humble.

From our houses to yours, I wish you all a healthy and prosperous New Year. Ciao, darlings!

Oodles of love,