updated 2 Jan 2011, 14:28
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Thu, Dec 30, 2010
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Model who died of anorexia battled long with disease

The French model who suffered from anorexia had been battling the disease since she was a teenager at the age of 13.

Aside from agreeing to pose in the nude for the controversial fashion campaign shot by Italian photographer Toscani to highlight the illness of anorexia, she also wrote about her illness and the struggles she went through in an autobiography, titled "La petite fille qui ne voulait pas grossir" - loosely translated as "The little girl who did not want to grow up".

In it, she traced the beginnings of her disorder, from the time when she was four as her mother struggled with depression, to the moment when she began to spiral into the world of anorexia. She wrote about how she started to starve herself when she realised that her mother did not want her to grow up as she went through adolescence.

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In order to gain acceptance from her family, she ate as little as she could, so she could keep her weight down.

As Isabelle came to acknowledge her illness, she also agreed to show her naked form in the ad campaign No-lita, as a way to warn young girls about the dangers of anorexia.
Her writings revealed that she thought she would be able to survive and get well.

The model also appeared on Jessica Simpson's VH1 series The Price of Beauty to discuss body image issues and her struggle to overcome anorexia earlier this year.

Unfortunately, she died last month on Nov 17.

Below are some quotes taken from the website, which highlighted excerpts from Isabelle's book and interviews that were conducted with her.

"I thought this could be a chance to use my suffering to get a message across, and finally put an image on what thinness represents and the danger it leads to -- which is make people react, for young girls who see this to think: 'Oh, so that's what lies behind the beautiful clothes, the hair, the image that we are shown of fashion.'"

"[My mother] said, 'Do you know how heavy this is?' " "I weighed 10 pounds more, and I kept thinking 'I'm heavier than that heavy gas cylinder so I am a burden on my mother.' And that's when I thought about wanting to lose weight, to stop my growth. I dropped to about 58 pounds. My meal was reduced to two squares of chocolate and five cornflakes. That's all I ate all day."

"I know that it will take time, but I would rather go slowly and surely rather than gain weight rapidly and then fall back into losing it again," she said. "I have to get used to how I look with more weight."

"When I see myself now, I say, 'what a horror. I'm trying to get out of it, and I want young women to know that is possible."

"I had a very complicated childhood, very difficult, very painful. My mother's big phobia was that I would grow. She spent her time measuring my height. She wouldn't let me go outside because she'd heard that fresh air makes children grow, and that's why I was kept at home. It was completely traumatic."

"At one point I went right down to just less than four stone (about 6kg) but now I'm almost five. I know I'll keep fighting it because I love life and I believe in that more than anything."

Pictured with Isabelle is Jessica Simpson,
who interviewed her about her disease
(Picture taken from Isabelle's blog)

"That Christmas [when Isabelle was 13 years old] I asked for some scales. I saw I'd dropped a few pounds so I started eating less and less. My parents were so worried I spent hours weighing myself that mum broke my scales."

"I had a very close relationship with my mother, which led me down the path of anorexia. She wanted me to be her little girl for ever. So as I started puberty I hated the idea that my body was going to change. I wanted to have the body of a child for ever, to make my mother happy."

"To break the monotony of my younger days I pretended to have a stomach ache... I ended up in hospital and the doctor weighed me and my mother shot me a disapproving glance when he said how many kilos I was. I understood that for her I weighed too much. So from that day, slowly, slowly, I stopped eating."

"Every day I fight the demons of anorexia... I'm eating more calories every day and it's really hard, but I know I'll make it."

"I still eat almost nothing, but I've stopped vomiting. I have started to distinguish tastes of things. I have tried ice-cream - it's delicious."

Read also: French model known for anti-anorexia ads dies

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