Brazil Transfixed by 4th Anorexia Death
The deaths of four young women in recent weeks from anorexia - a disorder characterized by an abnormal fear of becoming obese, an aversion to food and severe weight loss - have been splashed across the front pages of newspapers nationwide.
The subject has become a morbid fascination for Brazilians, and is even the theme of a popular TV soap opera. It has also touched off a debate within Brazil's fashion industry that has long presented the rail-thin model as the paragon of female beauty.
The most recent victim was Beatriz Cristina Ferraz Lopes Bastos, a 23-year-old teacher whose death Sunday at a hospital in Jau, 200 miles northeast of Sao Paulo, was reported by national television news programs.
Local media reports said she was 5 feet, 2 inches tall and weighed just 77 pounds.
"Another victim of anorexia," the newspaper Globo said on its Web site Tuesday, alongside a glamorous photo of the blonde Bastos, who was also a skilled pianist, amateur historian and author of a literature column for a hometown Web site.
The newspaper Folha de S. Paulo reported she described herself as "thin" on an Internet discussion group and friends said they had to "fight with her to eat." A former boyfriend, Leandro Murgo, told reporters Bastos was a chubby teenager and became fixated on losing weight.
Anorexia became big news in Brazil last month with the death of 21-year-old Ana Carolina Reston, a successful model who died of generalized infection caused by anorexia nervosa. She reportedly carried just 88 pounds on her 5-foot-8 frame.
"Take care for your children because their loss is irreparable," Reston's mother, Miriam, told Globo after her death. "Nothing can make the pain go away. No money in the world is worth the life of your child."
Two days later, on Nov. 16, college student Carla Sobrado Casalle, 21, died in the southeastern city of Araraquara, also with symptoms linked to anorexia. She was just under 5-foot-9 and weighed 99 pounds. A third anorexia victim died later in the month.