A few days ago Franca Sozzani, the editor-in-chief of Italian Vogue who was recently honoured with the Legion of Honour for being someone who is not afraid of making waves on the way to making change, published a very powerful and honest letter discussing the reasons and factors that may cause the illness.
She wrote: “In the '70s the blame was laid exclusively on parents and later fashion was also accused because it portrayed thin models. 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.”
As a fashion insider, Sozzani explained that “models are in most cases naturally long, lean and slender being still very young and still not fully developed. This is a topic that has been often discussed with false prejudice against fashion when nobody was left to blame.”
The issues were talked about in even greater depth during the Harvard speech on 2 April. Although Sozzani admitted that “fashion became one of the causes”, she emphasised that it is only the tip of the iceberg and the real causes, including “negative family and social influences, the feeling of being subjected to too much pressure or too high expectations or, conversely, to parental neglect, being ridiculed over one’s body shape or feeling unable to reach one’s goals in connection with the way one looks or with weight” can be easily overlooked and ignored.
While questioning “what lead us to establish that thin is beautiful and that thinness is the aesthetic code we should follow?”, she, however, rightly points that “obesity is another appalling phenomenon among eating disorders is also on the rise” and yet the food industry that uses media to promote unhealthy foods and miracle diet shakes is getting away with it.
“I can accept that fashion may exaggerate, but I cannot help but mention all the negative tools that society employs to spread false information on food and aesthetics. How can all this be possibly caused by fashion?”
Since the speech and letter were published, the media has produced several articles to criticize Sozzani’s actions and every single word she said. The quotes were chosen and sometimes twisted to suit the stories that generated dozens of angry hateful comments once they went live.
It made me feel rather sad. I know that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but so far, the opinion many journalists and readers have developed hasn’t improved anything or taken us in a right direction. To me, it feels like they’d rather eat their cake and blame fashion for feeling guilty about it.
At this point, I applaud Franca for her honesty and efforts and wish there were more people like her out there who aren’t afraid to speak out.