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Anti-anorexia campaign by Italian Vogue editor


Summary of a story from The Guardian, March 18, 2011

The head of Italian Vogue has launched a campaign to stamp out pro-anorexia websites.

Franca Sozzani, Vogue Italia’ editor-in-chief, announced on her blog that she was starting a petition to introduce  legislation to close down sites that ‘don’t just support this evil, but push young people into competition over their physical shape”.

Sozzani complains that websites that act as forums for people with eating disorders “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”.

This is not the first time that Vogue has entered the fray over eating disorders.

In 2009, Alexandra Shulman, of British Vogue, wrote to designers complaining that the magazine was receiving ever smaller garments for photo shoots, thereby forcing the use of models “with jutting bones and no breasts or hips”.

Her intervention prompted some commentators to criticise the publication, arguing the images it promoted were among the reasons for the spread of anorexia, bulimia and similar disorders.

Sozzani says on her blog “I am sure they will say the same about me, but you can’t let yourself be influenced by a handful of people into not doing something about what’s going on”.

There are many ‘pro-ana’ sites on the internet and, although say their aim is to offer support to anorexics and bulimics, rather than to encourage eating disorders, a brief look at one  – Ana’s Thinspiration – shows that support and encouragement may be intertwined.

Its list of dos and don’ts includes this – “You will be FAT if you eat today. Just put it off one more day” and it encourages readers to “tape/tack up pictures of your favourite models and always carry one around with you. When you’re hungry, pull out the picture.”

This kind of language seems to underline the link between the fashion industry and eating disorders;  Sozzani argues that  fashion devotees failed to understand that “models in most cases are naturally slender because they are still very young and not yet fully developed”.

On the practical issue of how sites could be removed, she said: “Italy could also black out foreign sites. But what we want is for this to act as a springboard for a much wider campaign”

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