Last week, we wondered why Vogue Italia pulled a particular photo from Karlie Kloss’ editorial, one where she happens to look especially contorted, from their website. Now we may have our answer: It’s been popping up on pro-anorexia (“pro-ana”) sites.
Fashionista commenter Tyler McCall called this disturbing development to our attention on the story, saying, “Personally, I really loved the editorial until I searched it on Tumblr and found it tagged all over “pro-ana” and “thinspiration” blogs, and then I was kind of disturbed.”
Indeed, the editorial seems to be making the rounds on sites that encourage or promote eating disorders, including one site whose tagline read “all i need is self control // skinny girls, models, hip bones, collarbones, thin legs, flat stomachs,” another called wannabe93 (whose name refers to her ideal body weight, in pounds) and still another, whose bio reads: “cutter with diagnosed depression and eating disorders (Both Ana & Mia).”
“These sites are very, very dangerous,” says Lynn S. Grefe, MA, President and CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association. “[People suffering from eating disorders] wallow around in these sites instead of getting help.”
In addition to chronicling their own (often scary) weight loss, and offering diet, exercise and “pro-anorexia” tips, these bloggers also post a great deal of “thinspiration”–images of extremely thin models and actresses to “inspire” more weight loss. And recently, this Vogue Italia editorial has been featuring prominently.
This of course isn’t a commentary on Kloss’ actual health–we’d bet that genetics (and okay, a good personal trainer) play a big role, but we have no way of knowing. However, it is easy to see why these images would be considered “triggering” for those suffering from eating disorders. Many of our readers thought Kloss looked alarmingly thin in the images, while others complained that bad photoshopping–particularly in the image at left–was to blame (though careful examination of a video of the shoot, conducted by Jezebel, seems to rule out photoshopping).
Whatever the reason, the editorial has certainly struck a cord with the pro-ana community, a fact that Grefe says is enough reason for Vogue Italia to want to remove it. “I think it’s great that [Vogue Italia] pulled it,” she said. “If they recognized that it was a bad image, that it was having a bad effect…I’m sorry they put it up there in the first place, but good for them for pulling it.”
This unsettling development should be of particular interest to Vogue Italia, since the magazine took a public stance against pro-anorexia sites, even starting a petition to get some them shut down. “Vogue Italia the magazine par excellence that deals with and promotes aesthetics and beauty, has decided to make use of its authority and its [online audience], to battle against anorexia,” editor in chief Franca Sozzani wrote on Vogue Italia’s site. “Fashion has been always blamed as one of the culprits of anorexia and our commitment is the proof that fashion is ready to get on the frontline and struggle against the disorder.” So it’s pretty ironic, then, that the very same magazine dedicating to “battling” anorexia, would wind up producing a shoot that, to some, seemed to promote the disease.
We have to admit, some of the extreme poses and angles in the shoot did seem to emphasize Kloss’ slight figure and the protrusion of her bones–something eating disorder sufferers often latch on to. And regardless of Kloss’ weight, magazines should probably think twice before printing a nine-page spread featuring an extremely thin model and labeling it ‘Body.’
“I have a problem setting up one particular image of a person and saying this is how [your body is] supposed to be,” Grefe says. She added that the media should be held accountable for distributing images like these, particularly if they’ve been tampered with in photoshop. “Most of the images we see in the media have been photoshopped, but because it’s not disclosed, people think that this is normal, that this is how they should look. It’s misleading the public,” she said. “Personally, I believe that there should be disclosure [on each image that is photoshopped.]”
Another medium that might soon be held accountable is Tumblr, whose largely image-based platform has offered an ideal way for “pro-anas” to share “thinspiration” photos. Popular tags such as #thinspo, #thinspiration, #anorexic and #pro-ana, make it easy for users to seek out such images and blogs. Of course, Tumblr can’t be held responsible for what is posted on their platform, but they can take steps to control this dangerous trend, by flagging pro-ana tags and monitoring pro-ana blogs, as Facebook has done after complaints that there multiple pro-ana groups on the social networking site.