Vogue Italia editor admits 'fashion is one of the causes' of anorexia in Harvard speech about body image



01:03 GMT, 5 April 2012

Talking thinness: Italian Vogue's Franca Sozzani spoke about eating disorders and body image at America's Harvard University on Monday, admitting that fashion is one of the causes of anorexia.

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.

the current inclination to embrace a female beauty standard that exalts
thinness has devastating consequences on many adolescents’ eating

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

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

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

Thinsperation: This ad campaign, along with many other fashion spreads, has been accused of fueling pro-anorexia websites

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”.'

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

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.'

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.'