Franca Sozzani Creates Petition Against Pro-Anorexia Sites

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Photo: Patrick McMullan
Italian Vogue editor in chief Franca Sozzani.

Franca Sozzani, the editor in chief of Vogue Italia, took to her blog today to defend the fashion industry against long-standing accusations that it contributes to unhealthy body image and anorexia.

“For years fashion has been blamed for being the major cause of eating disorders affecting girls all over the world,” Sozzani wrote. “Today the real culprit seems to be Facebook, according to a survey carried out by the University of Haifa, Israel, among teenage girls aged between 12 and 19.” (The university's interpretation of the study can be found here.)

Sozzani cites studies through the years that place the blame for eating disorders on everything from fashion magazines to parents but concludes with a recent survey that says “the more time you spend logged in Facebook the more chance you have to become anorexic.”

The editor denies that the fashion industry plays a role. “Models, as I have underlined before, are in most cases naturally long, lean and slender being still very young and still not fully developed,” she writes. “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.”

Sozzani has created a petition on to collect signatures against the pro-anorexia Web sites that have sprung up through Facebook. “Fashion has been always blamed as one of the culprits of anorexia, and our commitment is the proof that fashion is ready to get on the frontline and struggle against the disorder."

FashionEtc spoke to Carolyn Costin, the owner and director of Monte Nido Treatment Center, author of three books on eating disorders, and board member of the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals, who says Sozzani shouldn't be so quick to shake off the blame. 

"I’ve been treating eating disorders for 32 years," Costin says. "Long before Facebook was here, there have been eating disorders. So that’s an odd comment to make. There’s no way anyone can put their finger on any one thing [that causes eating disorders]. There’s no way people are going to be exonerated here."

"Rather than trying to point fingers at Facebook or diet books or the fashion industry, we have to understand the illness," she said. "I think that we all, whatever industry we're in, have to take a look at the messages we’re sending to society and to young women. It would certainly be nice to send messages of all shapes and sizes. I understand the difficulties—but I will certainly try to make it happen."