The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Fashion Industry Questioned

Jan 10, 2011

The following article is translated from the January 7 issue of Lutte Ouvri re (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers’ group of that name active in France.

Isabelle Caro, a French model, died at age 28. She had long suffered from anorexia, a mental illness in which someone continues to try to lose weight, even when they are severely underweight. This serious psychological disorder essentially comes out of this sexist society that pushes the view that women have to be “painfully thin” in order to be beautiful. Anorexia is taking that view of one’s self image to its extreme.

The French health ministry estimates there are between 30,000 and 40,000 anorexics in France, 95% of them women. (In the U.S., some 10 million people suffer from eating disorders, and nine million of them are women.)

Five% of anorexics will die within ten years from this disease. In the long run, an estimated 20% die early, since even those who conquer the disease have irreversibly weakened their bodies.

Isabelle Caro went into a coma from anorexia in 2006. The following year, as she fought to overcome it, she agreed to have photos taken of her naked, emaciated body for a poster against anorexia. She said she wanted “to reveal the consequence” of a disease that strikes a number of models. The photo–with no makeup–revealed the striking devastation caused by the disease. Her intention was to show young women the cruel reality that the fashion industry propagates in ads and women’s magazines.

And even so, a fashion photographer specializing in provocative pictures of women exploited this image for the profit of an Italian textile company. In a society which tends to transform the bodies of women into merchandise, it doesn’t matter whether the image of a woman is seductive or whether it evokes death–so long as it sells!