Last Updated on 22nd March 2011
Y’know, we’re beginning to think we need a new column dedicated to Franca Sozzani’s blog posts.
A place for Vogue Italia readers to feel more personally connected to the magazine’s editor in chief is a great idea in principle, but so far she’s managed to blog about hating bloggers and blogspots, dismiss Galliano’s anti-Semitic remarks as a set-up and, now, blame Facebook for eating disorders.
In a new post on her blog last week, Franca tries to dispel the myth that fashion might have something to do with eating disorders by blaming it on Facebook, where she quotes a study carried out by the University of Haifa, Israel, who surveyed 248 teenage girls aged between 12 and 19 and found that the more time they spent on the social networking site, the more likely they were to develop negative body images.
“For years fashion has been blamed for being the major cause of eating disorders affecting girls all over the world. Today the real culprit seems to be Facebook,” Franca begins.
“Models, as I have underlined before, are in most cases naturally long, lean and slender being still very young and still not fully developed. The image they convey, however, is often that of an excessive thinness, but designers themselves discard those who are visibly suffering from nutritional problems. This is a topic that has been often discussed with false prejudice against fashion when nobody was left to blame.”
Really, Sozzani? What about Coco Rocha, who at 108 pounds was told she needed to lose weight because “the look this year is anorexic”, or Crystal Renn who’s written a whole book on her battle with being told she needed to lose more weight.
“The more time you spend logged in Facebook the more chance you have to become anorexic,” Sozzani continues, interpreting the study. “Reading the article it looked like the social network was guilty of showing virtual role models that girls tend to imitate. Wrong, and sometimes even fake models, the result of photoshop alterations. The younger tend to feel inadequate as regards such models and put their health at stake trying to imitate them. They accept messages passively and adjust to them.”
We’re not sure where Sozzani is going with this disbelief of unrealistic representations and use of photoshop, but surely even she can’t be alluding to having never heard of it? She controls one of the biggest fashion magazines in the world and she can’t believe Facebook is promoting unrealistic beauty and digitally-altered images? She doesn’t think young impressionable girls reading her magazine ‘accept messages and passively adjust to them’? Come on, Franca, pull the other one.
She then goes on to talk about pro-anorexia websites and her concern for their existence and power:
“On Facebook users share everything and for sure will make comments on anorexia, make fun of it or encourage it: yet exclusively pro-anorexia blogs and websites in my opinion are much more dangerous. There countless of them and their number is growing in America and are active in all countries. They have weird names and, from “Ana’s girls” onwards, provide a kind of open confessional supporting those who are unable to carry on by themselves along a road that can only lead to death.”
Now we’re not for one minute disputing that pro-anorexia websites should be banned, nor are we trying to dampen Sozzani’s efforts to raise awareness for such an important cause. What we are compelled by, however, is her unwillingness to accept fashion’s part in all of this. Not once does Franca offer to take responsibility for her industry’s role in eating disorders. Instead, she passes the buck onto social networking sites in a bid to completely rid fashion’s involvement.
Sure, fashion isn’t wholly to blame either, but it’s a frankly ridiculous argument to use this study as proof that the industry’s been falsely accused for all these years.
Franca wants you to sign her petition to get pro-ana websites closed down – fantastic – but does she think that eating disorders will go away if these sites vanish? The fact is, eating disorders exist for a number of varied causes, and taking away one of these won’t, unfortunately, banish diseases like anorexia.
We’d love Franca Sozzani’s petition to be successful, but we’d also like her to get real and accept greater responsibility for fashion’s role in regard to this issue.
NB: anyone else note the irony at the end where she asks readers to share the petition via Facebook?