Disease as Spectacle
We came across a posting on the San Francisco Chronicle’s Daily Dish a few weeks ago, on Allegra Versace’s battle with anorexia. Here are some excerpts from the post:
Fashion queen Donatella Versace‘s daughter Allegra is under medical care, battling a serious eating disorder.
Donatella, 52, has expressed her heartache and has admitted Allegra was being “consumed” by the illness, and pleaded with the media to “respect our pain.”
She says, “My daughter is very ill. Anorexia is consuming her and we are very worried. However, the doctors are doing all they can to snatch her away from this cruel disease and we have faith in them.
“Please think of us and respect our pain. Many mothers will know well what I am going through and what my daughter is risking.”
It’s disturbing to see this as gossip-worthy. Why is a disease a hot topic? Let’s say they found out that Allegra had breast cancer. Would they show her in her hospital bed, post-mastectomy, with a shaved head, struggling to recover? Second, Allegra’s mother runs one of the world’s top fashion companies. Will she see a connection between her daughter’s illness and the effects of the fashion industry on women’s body image? Here’s what Marcella, our eating disorders expert, had to say about it:
“I really dislike this type of coverage. There is always picture of the physically ill person so that we can look at her as some kind of circus freakshow. I am curious to see how and if this evolves. It just seems so twisted to have one of the top fashion designers’ daughters have an eating disorder. Right now, this story does not sit well for me because it is ignoring the obvious elephant in the room. I think it would be powerful if ‘Mom’ Donatella could perhaps see how toxic her line of work is for a growing girl around body image and make a statement about this and include more diversity in body shapes and sizes for her clothes and runway models.
I am glad there is more coverage on eating disorders in popular media, I just don’t like the way it is being covered, and many experts in the field hold my opinion.”
What do you think?