Franca Sozzani on fashion and eating disorders


Franca Sozzani
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.

Photo source: sunchasers


  1. There are several reasons, Little Rus. A couple of months ago, I read about Mariafrancesca Garritano, a famous ballerina from La Scala - Milan, that has written a book where she reveals "how dancers were tormented with eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, as they frantically tried to please teachers and opera chiefs with the perfect body." It is very sad...

  2. The italian ballerina, was fired from the Scala, as they said, she has discredited the company.

    The media world often talks about anorexia and fashion industry, but rarely about sport industry and anorexia (there are examples also in cycling).

  3. I agree with you, girls. Many years ago I personally knew two ballerinas who would starve themselves for days, particularly before a big performance, eating nothing but a bar of chocolate a day. And once the performance was over, one of thme used to buy herself the biggest cake she could find and eat almost the entire thing. I always found it quite shocking...

  4. I do think that she deserves a big round of applause for just speaking out on the subject when many would not. What is feel sad is that I think she missed the point somewhat. There IS evidence to suggest that the way in which society prizes thinness (especially evident in fashion, come on Sozzani) does no good at all for anyone's self esteem and will contribute to a desire to be thinner because of the associations with it. Dieting is one of the precursors to an eating disorder.

    However, there is also a huge amount of research evidence that anorexia in particular is a multi factorial disorder and that several factors play a role in the way in which is comes into being. Not one thing but several things together at one time.

    One thing I would have hoped for is for her to say as a society we need to accept health at every size - this would have been great to hear from someone in her position!