Cossette puts a face to eating disorders

Anorexia and Bulimia Quebec is showing how people with eating disorders can literally feel trapped in their own body with a visually striking new ad campaign.

Developed by Cossette Montreal, the print and poster ads show how people of all types can be negatively affected by excessive dieting, emotional eating, or over-training, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or even body type. Each picture shows the anguished face of someone trapped inside their body, trying desperately to escape.

“We tried to evoke the sense of being trapped in your own body,” said Cossette creative director Richard Rochette-Villeneuve.

“This illustrates the pain and isolation that people struggling with an eating disorder experience. We wanted to remind folks that there’s no standard profile for those who suffer from these illnesses, and that normalized behaviours like dieting or overexercising can be a trigger.”

According to the National Initiative for Eating Disorders, there are about 1 million Canadians struggling with an eating disorder. They have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, with estimates between 10-15%. According to NIED, 20% of people with anorexia, and 25-35% of those with bulimia attempt suicide in their lifetime.

According to the ANEB, the pandemic exacerbated the problem, with the organization responding to more than 1,200 online requests for help between July of 2020 and February of 2021, a 131% increase from the year-earlier period.

“Isolation is one of the main consequences of eating disorders like anorexia, bigorexia, hyperphagia and bulimia, which can hinder diagnosis and recovery,” said ANEB executive director Josée Champagne. “Our mission is to provide people living with eating disorders and their loved ones with the resources and professional help they need to overcome these diseases.”

Chris Powell