Friday, April 6, 2012

Embracing ourselves

Harris Center hosts 15th annual forum


HEALTH IS BEAUTY: From left, Kroes, Huffington, Herzog and Sozzani


The influence the fashion industry and the media can have on body image was the focus of the 15th annual public forum hosted by the Harris Center for Education and Advocacy in Eating Disorders at the MGH. Approximately 700 guests attended the event, “Health is Beauty: Defining Ourselves,” which was held April 2 at the Memorial Church at Harvard University and featured panelists David B. Herzog, MD, director of the Harris Center, Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, Doutzen Kroes, a Dutch model and actress, and Franca Sozzani, editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia.

The panelists discussed recent legislation in Israel to ban underweight models from runways. Herzog emphasized the importance of the health of young models, regardless of their body type. “I would encourage agencies to have individuals in good health when they start modeling, no matter if their BMI is 18.2 or 18.7,” Herzog said.

But few are immune to the pressure to look perfect. Kroes, best known as a Victoria’s Secret model, admitted that she experiences bouts of insecurity. She cautioned people not to compare themselves to models in magazines: “I get a picture taken, and I don’t look the same in real life,” Kroes said. “There is good lighting, there’s a photographer and there’s retouching after.”

Huffington revealed that her two college-age daughters have both struggled with eating disorders. She repeated the mantra first stated by Sozzani: “We not only have to accept ourselves, we have to embrace ourselves.”

The event helped raise more than $250,000 for the Harris Center, which is dedicated to research, education and advocacy for eating disorders and offers clinical assessment and treatment for children, adolescents, adults and families affected by these diseases. For more information, visit

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