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Karlie Kloss’ ribs airbrushed by Numéro magazine after Vogue shoot sparked eating disorder controversy

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Japanese magazine Numéro had airbrushed out Karlie Kloss’ prominent ribs in a photoshoot.

The original photo, shot by Greg Kadel and released by his studio, showed the 20-year-old model leaning back with her hands behind her head.

But the image that made its way onto the pages of the magazine’s October issue, Karlie Kloss’s ribs, sternum and prominent collar bones had been smoothed over.

Some have criticized the move, saying that that the images of Karlie Kloss show a slender model with normal ribs for a slim person leaning backwards – and suggest that the airbrushing by Número was over-zealous.

But to the editors of Numéro magazine, what may have seemed heavy-handed to some was likely a pre-emptive move to avoid the sort of furor that arose last time Chicago-born Karlie Kloss appeared naked in a magazine.

In a shoot for Vogue Italia with Steven Meisel last December, images showing Karlie Kloss’s protruding hip bones and minuscule waist sparked heated debate after they appeared on pro-anorexia websites.


Karlie Kloss printed in Numéro magazine

Karlie Kloss printed in Numéro magazine

The photos were replicated across the globe on myriad so-called Thinspiration sites, websites where vulnerable women and men post images and words that they believe will help them to lose weight to be more like their icons. Eating disorder associations spoke out to say that Karlie Kloss’s slight frame could have a negative effect on impressionable girls.

Karlie Kloss in the original shoot

Karlie Kloss in the original shoot

As soon as Vogue Italia learned that the images had appeared on the pro-anorexia sites, they pulled them from their own website.

Some months later, Vogue Italia’s editor Franca Sozzani admitted during a speech she gave to students at Harvard University that “fashion becomes one of the causes” of anorexia.

She discussed the industry’s reliance on imagery that glorifies extreme thinness, to the point where we now accept such aesthetic standards as entirely normal, and something to aspire to.

Franca Sozzani explained: “One of the reasons why a girl starts a too-strict diet is the necessity to correspond to an aesthetic standard which rewards thinness.

“And the current inclination to embrace a female beauty standard that exalts thinness has devastating consequences on many adolescents’ eating habits.”

Karlie Kloss, who says having been compared to Elle Macpherson (she has already been dubbed the new “Body”) gave her “goosebumps”, says her slim figure is down to years of ballet, which she gave up after she was told she was too tall to become a professional dancer.

She told Vogue earlier this year: “You are physically up for scrutiny by everyone and you hear everyone’s opinion. You have to grow thick skin and that only comes with time and learning.”