Disturbing portraits of painfully thin women explore the role of fashion and photography

This disturbing series of portraits of painfully thin women by German artist Ivonne Thein makes for some uncomfortable viewing and really forces us to look at fashion and photography in a new light. Called Thirty-Two Kilos, Ivonne deals with the pathological striving of girls and women in the US to be extremely thin. It's something that comes from a phenomenon that emerged in the '90s with the Internet movement 'Pro Ana', which elevates anorexia nervosa to the status of a new, positive lifestyle for young women.

In her series, she simultaneously calls the role of photography into question: in the case of Pro Ana, this medium is, on the one hand, a document providing compelling evidence, but on the other, it is a consciously manipulated image. Photography takes on a key role in this process, creating and constituting extreme body images and ideals of femininity—with a direct link to the developments on the Internet. Ivonne employs the tools, modes of presentation, and superficiality of the fashion world in her visual language and compositional style. She has also manipulated her photographs on the computer, turning slender models into anorexic bodies. Faceless and positioned in disconcerting poses, they oscillate in a transitory state between femininity and morbidity. And she leaves us with the ultimate question of the status and role of photography in the digital age.