She was born to a middle class family in Jundiai, on the outskirts of São Paulo. Reston began her modeling career at the age of 13 after winning a local beauty contest in her hometown. She was represented by renowned modeling agencies such as Ford, Elite and L'Équipe in countries such as China, Turkey, Mexico, and Japan, including prestigious ad campaigns such as Giorgio Armani.
And from the Guardian:
Reston was admitted to the Samaritano Hospital in Sao Paulo and two days later, on 25 October, she was moved to the Hospital Municipal dos Servidores Publicos, where almost immediately she was admitted to the intensive care unit, where she spent her last 21 days. Her demise was agonising, a plastic tube inserted down her throat, unable to tell anyone how she felt, although the tears in her eyes must have made that pretty obvious. Patches of her once long brown hair had fallen out, too. Her death certificate, for which relatives paid around 50p, cites her time of death as 7.10am and lists the cause of death as 'multiple organ failure, septicaemia, urinary infection'. Coldly it adds: 'Leaves no children. Leaves no property. Leaves no will.'
So, Ana died childless and young. None of our ancestors died childless and herein lies the power of memes. You may have heard of the word meme, a word first coined by Richard Dawkins as a mental analogue of genes. Memes are transmitted between individuals through the process of communication. But where evolution has in the past been driven by the selection of genes, memes hold no such allegiance to our biology. To put it another way, if our genes collaborate because they are all stuck in the same boat, a meme is not held in check by any such biological constraint.
Ana was an affluent and successful young lady, who potentially had many years ahead of her. Ana's particular combination of genes was not passed on. But what about the memes that filled her head? She was probably infected with all manner of different memes, such as thin is pretty, eating food is bad. These are actually in direct opposition to what her biology wanted. The body and brain need food. Starving yourself is just not how human biology is supposed to be treated.
If you have bad genes, your death often prevents them being passed on. But memes are not transmitted in sperm or eggs, but through communication with other meme infected machines. The world is full of images and ideas which are transmitted into peoples' brains. Magazines and TV tell you what to think and what is beautiful. And importantly as long as memes get transmitted, it doesn't matter if people drop like flies along the way.
Finally from Susan Blackmore's 'The Meme Machine':
Let us suppose that women who have many children are far too busy to have much of a social life, and spend most of their time with their partners and family. The few other people they do see are likely to be mothers with young children who are already share at least some of their same child-rearing memes. The more children they have the more years they will spend this way. They will, therefore, have little time for spreading their own memes, including the ones concerned with family values and the pleasures of having lots of children.
On the other hand, women who have only one or two children, or none at all, are far more likely to have jobs outside the home, to have an exciting social life, to use email, to write books and papers and articles, to become politicians or broadcasters, or do any number of other things that will spread their memes, including the memes for birth control and the pleasures of a small family. These are the women whose pictures appear in the media, whose success inspire others, and who provide role models for other women to copy. (p.139-40)
So Tyra Banks and the rest of you vacuous top-model types, beware. You do not have to be a slave to the memes. In this war between genetic and memetic, it is hard to predict a winner. But at least our biology is in some way part of 'us', an ally of sorts. Memes are like parasites hitching a ride and taking what they can. Although in the end we are all destined to go the way of Ana, and join the ranks of the top-corpses.Go Top