Franca Sozzani, editor of Italian Vogue, is a vocal representive of the fashion industry who has been addressing the issue of eating disorders for several years. Now she's trying to ban pro-ana websites -- online blogs and social sites that promote starvation and deprivation.
"I will soon launch a provocation to stop such sites," Sozzani said at Harvard University on April 2 during a talk about health, weight and the fashion industry's responsibility. But instead of focusing in on the fashion world's part in setting an unachievable standard of beauty, she's going after the victims of anorexia and body image disorder and social media that permits them to communicate with other sufferers.
"I will ask for the help of the users themselves. We will set up a chain 'against', since the law is unable to close such sites. Everybody must do their part, from parents, to teachers, to the kids themselves - who must help those who can't make it on their own.
She compares the pro-ana blogs and websites to child pornography: “Why are we so outraged and disgusted by paedophile sites, and do absolutely nothing against sites that instruct people to cut themselves and feel pain to distract their attention from food, or to throw up and let themselves die? Isn't this a crime, too?"
CBS News reports that despite recent social media bans of pro-ana sites by Tumblr and Pinterest, these pages -- which often give detailed instructions on fasts, diuretics, and laxatives to girls trying to reach a dangerously low weight -- are still going strong.
Ironically, Sozzani recently received criticism for a controversial December 2011 Italian Vogue photo spread -- shot by Steven Meisel -- and starring 19-year-old model Karlie Kloss. In the photos, the model's figure looked distorted and emaciated. After staunch criticism of the photo, it was removed from the magazine's website.
But she subsequently regretted removing the shot and defended the photo on her blog, claiming that there was no Photoshopping and that Kloss is not anorexic but a healthy, muscular girl who wears swimsuits and lingerie for Victoria's Secret.
Still, we applaud Italian Vogue for promoting women of all shapes and sizes in their magazine. And although Sozzani bravely raised many more questions than she had answers for in her Harvard speech, at least she's talking publicly about the problem. Here's one particularly thought-provoking part of her speech:
"What led us to establish that thin is beautiful and that thinness is the aesthetic code we should follow? Why [did] the age of supermodels, who were beautiful and womanly, slowly [start] decreasing and we now have still undeveloped adolescents with no sign of curves? Why is this considered beautiful? Marylin Monroe, Liz Taylor, and Sophia Loren today would appear in our Curvy channel. Yet they are beauty icons still today. What has really happened?"
Check out Sozzano's full anti-anorexia Harvard speech on her blog.
What do you think of Italian Vogue's anti-ana activities?