Vogue Italia editor admits 'fashion is one of the causes' of anorexia in Harvard speech about body image
Published: 20:07 BST, 4 April 2012 | Updated: 02:03 BST, 5 April 2012
Talking thinness: Vogue Italia's Franca Sozzani admitted that fashion is a cause of anorexia
The editor of Vogue Italia has admitted that the fashion industry is partially to blame for the ongoing rise of eating disorders.
Speaking at Harvard University on Monday, Franca Sozzani told students that 'fashion becomes one of the causes' of anorexia.
She discussed the industry's reliance on imagery that glorifies extreme thinness, to the point where we now accept such aesthetic standards as entirely normal, and something to aspire to.
Ms Sozzani explained: 'One of the reasons why a girl starts a too-strict diet is the necessity to correspond to an aesthetic standard which rewards thinness.
'And the current inclination to embrace a female beauty standard that exalts thinness has devastating consequences on many adolescents’ eating habits.'
She asked the audience: 'What lead us to establish that thin is beautiful and that thinness is the aesthetic code we should follow?
'Why the age of supermodels, who were beautiful and womanly, slowly started decreasing and we now have still undeveloped adolescents with no sign of curves? Why is this considered beautiful?'
Rhetorical questions at best, they went mostly unanswered, however one can easily pinpoint fashion magazines, and advertising, for making thinness the ideal in an age where 78per cent of American's are overweight.
Ms Sozzani, 62, who has edited the Italian edition of Vogue for the past 34 years, has long been a passionate campaigner against pro-anorexia 'thinspiration' websites.
The editor also talked to students about the proliferation of such sites in connection with the development of anorexia.
She said: 'How come that Twiggy, who would be surely considered an anorexic today, did not arise controversy in the Sixties and did not produce a string of anorexia followers?
'What about Jean Shrimpton, nicknamed “The Shrimp” because of her thinness? The media are so numerous today and they all convey the image of a thin woman,' she continued.
Of course, while the globalisation of digital media now catapults these images into the mainstream easily and quickly, it is perhaps ignorant to assume that the likes of Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton did not produce a 'string of anorexia followers'.
Ms Sozzani also fails to acknowledge and admit that these online communities promoting eating disorders are united by their overwhelming reliance on imagery from the world of high fashion.
Thinsperation: This ad campaign, along with many other fashion spreads, has been accused of fueling pro-anorexia websites
Vogue Italia, for example, recently pulled an image from a shoot with Karlie Kloss from its website after editors were made aware that the image had been appearing on pro-anorexia websites.
Ms Sozzani also touches on society's willingness to accept and foster what are now considered aesthetic norms.
She said: 'It’s totally normal to hear someone saying to a child that she is beautiful because she is slender and has thin legs.
'To make a compliment a girlfriend will say "You are so thin…You are gorgeous” or "You’ve lost so much weight, you look amazing like that".'
The Vogue editor also made sure to give equal time to the dangers of obesity, speaking about society's growing focus on dieting and distorted relationships with food, quite literally, on the opposite end of the scale.
In an effort to promote a healthy balance of eating well and staying fit, while also enjoying life's treats, Ms Sozzani announced that Vogue Italia will be doing a special issue, 'dedicated to health, that is to say featuring [both] curvy and not curvy women, but all healthy.'
So what will it take to change the world's mentality that thinness is beautiful, 'and in any case better than curvy?' she asked, before clarifying, 'and I'm not saying fat.
'We will do our best, but before this idea of beauty will change, we will need time.'
Sarah Palin also brought this issue to light on the Today show yesterday, discussing Jessica Simpson's weight gain during her pregnancy.
She said to Matt Lauer: 'You know why this is even an issue, Matt, is because that Hollywood image is full of itty bitty people, [who are] unrealistically tiny.'