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BANNED: The Yves Saint Laurent ad, which originally appeared in ‘Elle’ magazine, was banned by the British Advertising Standards Authority, which upheld a complaint that the model appeared to be ‘unhealthily’ thin

BANNED: The Yves Saint Laurent ad, which originally appeared in ‘Elle’ magazine, was banned by the British Advertising Standards Authority, which upheld a complaint that the model appeared to be ‘unhealthily’ thin

BANNED: The Yves Saint Laurent ad, which originally appeared in ‘Elle’ magazine, was banned by the British Advertising Standards Authority, which upheld a complaint that the model appeared to be ‘unhealthily’ thin

Look at this picture. What do you see?

Do you merely see an arty fashion photo? Sure, the model is very thin but, after all, she is a model. And models, the world seems to have accepted, have to be thin.

And she is only 18, just a couple of years out of puberty,

Perhaps she has a fast metabolism or a food intolerance or simply really good genetics?

Or do you recoil in horror, look away and think she needs a good feed?

This image, part of a recent Yves Saint Laurent ready-to -wear couture campaign, was banned last week, deemed as "irresponsible advertising" for featuring a model who, in the words of the advertising watchdog in Britain, was "unhealthily thin"

Presumably the pin-sharp suits at Yves Saint Laurent got a slap on the wrist but, on the other side of this grubby equation, benefit from worldwide publicity.

The photographer and brand creative director, a middle-aged man called Hedi Slimane (I kid you not) maintains a reputation for "edgy dark aesthetics."

The advertising authority in question (ASA) sits back on a job well done - guardian of responsible advertising.

But what about the girl, the model, the human being? What about her?

For me, as a medical practitioner, this picture cuts to the quick.

This is not a lesson in the impact of body image on advertising or a slagging match between fashion houses.

This is real. This is every gorgeous cherubic child who came into me with mum or dad to get their vaccinations and who, years later, slunk into me as a hollow ghost of a teenager in the grips of a deadly disease called anorexia nervosa.

This is every time I subject beloved children to undignified weigh-ins after I first look in their pockets to make sure they are not weighing themselves down to make themselves heavier and look in their mouths to make sure they are not vomiting up every meal.

This is about those times I threaten, cajole and barter with them over body mass indexes.

This is about blood-pressure cuffs that don't stay on skinny arms and blood tests to make sure they are medically safe to stay out of hospital.

This is about who will look after a 17- year-old, dangerously ill patient who is deemed too old for child psychiatry services and too young to be cared for in the adult services?

This is about parents who have a child who is at war, at war with food, with their bodies and with themselves.

Pity all those mums and dads who dread their children turning 18, an age where they might have to take out a court order to keep them alive.

In the real world, anorexia nervosa is neither pretty nor fashionable.

Dr Clodagh Brennan is a GP based in Swords.

Sunday Independent