Ana Carolina Reston, a 21-year-old Brazil model weighing just 88 pounds (39 kgs) has died of generalized infection, Sao Paulo’s Servidor Publico Hospital said. She had worked in China, Turkey, Mexico and Japan for several modeling agencies. Reston was buried in her native Brazil on Thursday.
The hospital said the infection that killed the 5-foot-8-inch tall model was caused by anorexia nervosa, a disorder characterized by an abnormal fear of becoming obese, a strong dislike to food and severe weight loss.
It seems Reston was killed by a diet of just apples and tomatoes.
Miriam Reston, who revealed that her daughter had been trying to help her family with the money she earned as a model, said: “Take care of your children. No money is worth the life of your child, not even the most famous [fashion] brand is worth this.”
Reston began her modeling career at the age of 13 after winning a local beauty contest in her hometown of Jundiai, on the outskirts of Sao Paulo.
“I noticed something was wrong when she returned from Japan,” Miriam told the Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper. “She was too thin when she returned and when I told her to eat something, she would say: ‘Mom please don’t fight with me; there is nothing wrong with me, I’m fine.'”
The model’s cousin, Dani Grimaldi, told the Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper that Reston also battled bulimia; an eating disorder in which binge eating is followed by vomiting or the use of laxatives.
Reston’s other cousin, Geise Strauss, 30, who lived with her, said: “She didn’t like eating what we ate. When she did eat, she ate very little and recently she’d go to the bathroom and make herself sick as soon as as she left the table. She liked apples and she adored tomatoes as well but that was about it.”
Is the media to blame? The fashion industry? Perhaps it’s a combination of both. Where does personal obsession with appearance and responsibility for ones health come into play?
Infact the world of high fashion and modeling has long been targeted by critics who say it encourages women and girls to copy rail-thin models.
In September, a Spanish fashion show responded to such criticism by banning models with a body mass index of less than 18. Body mass index is a calculation doctors normally apply to study obesity, and anyone with an index below 18.5 is considered underweight.
Reston would have had a body mass index of 13.4 at the time of her death, according to a calculator on the website of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.