A Difficult Childhood and Anorexia: The Story of Isabelle Caro

anorexia disorder
Eating disorders, such as anorexia, are triggered by an intricate combination of factors, which is why the causes of the disorder vary from one person to another. Some individuals are born with the personality and traits, such as perfectionism and sensitivity, which, when exacerbated, can manifest as the disorder. For others, the symptoms of the disorder begin to show following a stressful life event — a traumatic breakup perhaps, or suddenly losing a job.

Some studies, moreover, point that recovering from trauma and coping with painful emotions can also trigger the disorder. This is true with Isabelle Caro, the woman labeled “the face of anorexia.”

The Face of a Warrior

The French actress and model became a symbol of the struggle against anorexia nervosa when she allowed Oliviero Toscani to photograph her naked body for a campaign to raise awareness about the disorder. At the time of the campaign, Caro was 25 years old and 5 feet, 4 inches tall. She weighed 60 pounds.

Caro fearlessly fought her demons in front of the entire world in an attempt to make other women aware of the condition. She brought her fight to talk shows and blogs, she even went to write a book called “The Little Girl Who Didn’t Want to Get Fat.”

The Girl Who Refused to Get Fat

In the same book, Caro chronicled how her childhood contributed to the way she saw her body and how it eventually triggered her anorexia. Caro, who started her battle with the condition at the age of 13, described a childhood disturbed by the depression that overshadowed her mother.

Growing up with an overprotective mother, Caro remained out of school until the age of 11. Furthermore, she was never allowed to play with other children, because her mother didn’t want her to catch a disease. She shared, moreover, that her mother often detested her for being “too fat.” In an interview with Vanity Fair, she said that this caused her to hate the idea that her body was going to transform as she went through puberty — she wanted to keep her girlhood body forever, to keep her mother happy.

Over the course of her life, she was in and out of hospitals for anorexia treatment. She would frequently fall into comas resulting from her diet. Once, she subsisted on one small piece of chocolate a day and a cup of tea that she would slowly consume with a teaspoon.

Three years after Isabelle appeared in the campaign, on November 17, 2010, she died shortly after returning from a job in Tokyo. Caro was 28 years old. Caro’s illness led her to live a life full of ups and downs. It did not, however, deter her from helping other people who may be experiencing the same thing as she was.

If there is one thing that can be derived from Isabelle’s story, however, it’s that parents and parental figures play a huge role in the formation of a child’s self-image. Although media and the society create certain standards about the way a person should look, a parent is in the unique position to drastically shape the way their children look at their body. Their guidance and opinion can help their young minds find reasons to love the body they’re born in.