This year’s forum, “Health is Beauty: Defining Ourselves,” featured Franca Sozzani, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Italia for 24 years, along with Arianna Huffington (Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post Media Group), and supermodel Doutzen Kroes. Amber Valletta, actress and fashion icon, who was also expected among the panelists, appeared via video from the set of Revenge in Los Angeles. David B. Herzog, director of the Harris Center, also participated in the panel.
The forum focused on how the media, fashion and publishing industries should promote positive body images, and collaborate in the battle against eating disorders.Sozzani brought to the table an interesting — and little known — aspect of the problem. As she reported, many so-called “pro-ana” and “pro-mia” websites and blogs can be found online, promoting anorexia and bulimia and creating a virtual community of young people who share tips, ideas and experiences regarding losing weight in an unhealthy and dangerous way.
After discovering this disturbing phenomenon, Sozzani decided to take an active role in the fight against it with petitions and by encouraging people to create an online network committed, instead, to help young people with eating disorders.As Editor-in-Chief of one of the most popular fashion magazines in the world, Sozzani is aware of the role played by the fashion industry in creating and spreading a body image that can put young people at risk for eating disorders. However, she doesn’t identify the problem in showing too thin or skinny models. The real issue, she says, is that “all the girls on magazines look alike.”
The fashion industry uses models that adhere to only one image of beauty (she described them as blond, blue eyed and tall), and don’t show that beauty can appear in several different forms, no matter your size or, on a different note, your ethnicity or skin color.Young people would develop eating disorders not necessarily to get thinner, but while trying — unsuccessfully — to look like the homologated beauty models they see on magazines and TV.
The Vogue Italia Editor-in-Chief refused to see fashion as the main cause of eating disorders among the young.
“The pharmaceutical industry is to blame too,” she said.
Awareness and parental support are very important in order to prevent anorexia, she added.
“Models, when they start their carrier, are very young and often alone in a foreign city.”