Italian Vogue Blames Facebook, Not Fashion, for Anorexia

Kerry Pieri

I may not always agree with what Franca Sozanni opts to speak out on via the Vogue Italia blog, from bloggers, to defending Galliano, but I definitely appreciate that she does so. The EIC is taking on an unfortunate phenomenon in her latest post, pro-ana websites and Facebook pages in particular, but her manner of doing so is questionable.

Sozanni begins by saying that although fashion is historically the main scapegoat for popularizing eating disorders, now that social networking site you may have heard of is the newest culprit, “according to a survey carried out by the University of Haifa, Israel, among teenage girls aged between 12 and 19,” she explains.

She goes onto explain that anorexia is affecting girls younger and younger, starting at age 11 and points to Isabelle Caro, a model who passed away from complications from anorexia, who Sozanni, says, “describes and blames her own unhappiness within the family, with an absent father and a mother so protective that she wouldnt let her daughter grow up.”

Oh, man, Sozanni, why are you giving me something to disagree with already? The editor then continues, “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.” OK, so perhaps there are pro-anorexia Facebook sites but I certainly don’t think that that discounts the blame that fashion should take for promoting unreasonable body images. Yes, there are other factors, like an unhappy home life or prior mental disorders, but you cannot, Ms.Sozanni, ignore the obvious body image that fashion triumphs.

To drive her point home even further, she continues, “Yet now we find out that not only the girls parents or fashion, or models are to be blamed. The more time you spend logged in Facebook the more chance you have to become anorexic. Reading the article it looked like the social network was guilty of showing virtual role models that girls tend to imitate.”

Sozanni, rightfully, checked out some of these dedicated pages herself, which are quite shocking. “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,” the editor explains.

Sozanni lastly calls for the pages to be shut down, which is a very, very good idea: “This is a real social commitment and I believe that if we must take action to protect these young people blaming a social network will not solve the problem. We must get moving and ask for these sites and blogs to be shut down. An I am positive that even by using Facebook in constructive way each one of you may spread the intention of helping those who are weaker and draw the attention on a such a tragic and painful phenomenon.”

Yes, these pages are dangerous and unhealthy and young, impressionable people should not be given access to them (or anyone, really), but they cannot discount other factors, including fashion, that promote excessive thinness. I’m not here to blame fashion for every anorexic girl in the world, but I’m not relieving it of all responsibility, either.