Fragile Beauty

Leonardo Chiarabini

2017 - Ongoing


These images are part of a visual diary started in 2017, about Vanessa and her fight against anorexia.

Vanessa’s dream was to become a magistrate until this disease forced her to give up her studies shortly before graduating. In 2010 she was hospitalized in very serious condition, she weighed only 26 kilos, risks falling into a coma and losing her life. Since then she has spent her years between hospitalizations and continuous checks that together with the disease itself have heavily conditioned every aspect of her life. Vanessa and I were engaged for a few years and we are still friends. I having faced, with her and her mother, the difficulties and pain of this complex disease to record this story upon agreement with Vanessa and her family.

Ten years after her first hospitalization for malnutrition, Vanessa is beginning to accept food again. Her situation is still delicate but the most important step has been taken.

My aim is to give hope to families who find themselves battling against anorexia, and to bring attention to a social problem which is so dramatically widespread. In fact, I intend to expand my project on this topic also in collaboration with specialized centers for the treatment of eating disorders.

Recent research has confirmed a genetic component related to the onset of this disease. The delicate nature of these girls and boys, the sense of guilt and the objective difficulties of everyday life often lead them to isolation. Their stories remain “hidden” within the home or hospital walls. The widespread misinformation about this complex disease illness exposes those affected by it to prejudices and misunderstandings in daily life and often also in family life. These two factors are extremely relevant in the attempt to stop this “epidemic”, as the true prevention of this pathology passes through the fact that people need to feel accepted and loved.

(The photos are taken in Italy, with a 35mm digital camera, nothing has been removed or added in post production.)

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  • Vanessa at home. Florence, Italy.

  • Vanessa's parents room. Florence, Italy.

  • Outside of Careggi hospital's psychiatric ward. Florence, Italy.

  • Vanessa. Florence, Italy.

  • Vanessa's mother in the waiting room, during a psychiatric visit of her daughter. Florence, Italy.

  • Vanessa and her mother enbrace in their's kitchen. Florence, Italy.

  • Vanessa at Careggi Medical Departement. Florence, Italy.

  • Vanessa's diary. Florence, Italy.

  • Vanessa. Elba Island, Italy.

  • Vanessa. Elba Island, Italy.

  • A photo of the First Communion (1994). Florence, Italy.

  • Ivano, Vanessa's father. Elba Island, Italy.

  • Tiziana, Vanessa's mother. Elba Island, Italy.

  • Vanessa does her yoga workout. Elba Island, Italy.

  • Vanessa and Tiziana during the holidays on the Elba's island. Italy.

  • Vanessa during the holidays in Elba's island. Italy.

  • Vanessa in a photo at eight years old. Florence, Italy.

  • Vanessa and Leonardo. Florence, Italy.

  • Vanessa's hands. Florence, Italy.

  • Vanessa. Afternoon at Cascine Park. Florence, Italy.

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