Italian Vogue editor Franca Sozzani, who has blogged on her blog about how bothersome bloggers are, blogged recently about how bothersome Facebook is. She cites a study from the University of Haifa that surveyed 248 girls ages 12 to 19 and found that the more time young women spend in front of Facebook, the more likely they are to develop negative body images and eating disorders. Sozzani uses this information to defend the fashion industry as an instigator of eating disorders:
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.
Sure, not all models are anorexic or unhealthy. However, a few high-profile models have spoken out about the unhealthy measures already-thin models go to to get even thinner. Ali Michael told the Today show she didn't have her period for over a year and her hair was falling out in clumps after she became anorexic to drop weight to model. Coco Rocha has also described the harrowing effects of taking diuretics on an empty stomach when she was just 108 pounds in an attempt to "look" anorexic, which is what she was told she needed to do to book work that season. Karen Elson has admitted to trying to control her weight with eating disorders. Crystal Renn wrote an entire book about it. Model Kim Noorda chronicled her struggles for a year for last year's Vogue shape issue — she enthuses about finally getting her period again and hopes it sticks around. Now, let's take a closer look at the study Sozzani refers to, emphasis ours:
The results showed that the more time girls spend on Facebook, the more they suffered conditions of bulimia, anorexia, physical dissatisfaction, negative physical self-image, negative approach to eating and more of an urge to be on a weight-loss diet. Extensive online exposure to fashion and music content showed similar tendencies, but manifested in fewer types of eating disorders. As such, the more the exposure to fashion content on the Internet, the higher a girl’s chances of developing anorexia.
Sozzani is asking you people looking at the Internet to sign her online petition to take down pro-anorexia sites. Sure, those are a problem, but the causes of eating disorders are many and varied, and even if this petition was to result in those coming down, that would not stop the spread of eating disorders. The fashion industry itself is surely not the sole cause of eating disorders around the world, but it should take greater responsibility for its role in this regard — if it does indeed intend to celebrate the beauty of women — than Sozzani's petition.
Anorexia. Is Facebook to be Blamed? [Vogue.It]