Toscani turns heads again with image of anorexia

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Oliviero Toscani has done it again. The man who thrust huge images of Aids victims, Death Row inmates and newborn babies at us, in the guise of selling Benetton jumpers, is back. This time he is selling the frocks and blouses of a company called Nolita through images of a naked sufferer of anorexia.

The campaign erupted in Italy just as Milan Fashion Week, the target of a government campaign to drive stick-thin models from the catwalks, got under way.

The woman in the photograph, Isabelle Caro, 23, has been suffering from anorexia for 15 years and weighs less than five stone. "I have hidden and covered myself up for too long," she told Italian Vanity Fair. "Now I want to show myself without fear, even though I know that my body is repugnant. The ... suffering I have experienced only makes sense if they can be of help to others who have fallen into the trap from which I am trying to escape."

The image that was splashed across billboards and a double page of La Repubblica newspaper had been approved by the Health Minister, Livia Turco. About two million Italians are affected by anorexia and/or bulimia.

But others were angered by the image. Fabiola De Clerq, of ABA, which studies anorexia, called it "useless and damaging", adding: "It even risks sparking a competition for extreme thinness among the sick."