Original article below from Policy Mic‘s Christine Salek, Health Promotion & Education distance-learning graduate student at The University of Alabama
Modeling Agents Recruit Outside Swedish Eating Disorder Clinic
One of Sweden’s largest modeling agencies once approached a 14-year-old girl and handed her a business card, while another girl who was so sick she was in a wheelchair was interviewed by another agent right outside the clinic. These awful people care not for these girls’ poor health — you know, the reason they’re at the clinic — but instead for their proven ability to lose a lot of weight very quickly.
“We think this is repugnant,” said chief doctor Anna-Maria af Sandeberg. “People have stood outside our clinic and tried to pick up our girls because they know they are very thin.”
Last year, the clinic was even forced to change its policies regarding when and where the patients take daily walks around the area because of the presence and persistence of the modeling agents.
It is scary to think of what could happen if one of these young ladies entertained an offer from an agent, even after she was released from the clinic. Some extremely common complications of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are heart disease, esophageal damage, certain harmful psychological effects, and death. Only 30-40% of people suffering from anorexia nervosa ever fully recover, and 20% will die prematurely from complications of their condition. Considering the young women in the clinic are part of the small percentage that actually seek help, the last thing they need is someone to pull them away from treatment.
“[The modeling agencies’ practice] sends the wrong signals when the girls are being treated for eating disorders,” added af Sandeberg.
While it is obvious that modeling agents receive payment for each recruitment, the outrageously callous means they go about achieving their goals are a cause for concern. In other countries, they have been known to target impoverished girls who could use the money or visit majority non-white countries like Brazil to find white models, but this is the most repugnant practice to date.
In Sweden, they don’t seem to care how far they go to meet their quota. When a mother of one of the girls approached explained to an agent that her daughter was seriously ill, the agent claimed “they approach healthy, normally slim young people and that they never urge anyone to lose weight.”
Oh, corrupt modeling agencies: You are not going to find “healthy, normally slim” young women outside of a clinic that treats people for eating disorders. These people are the opposite of healthy. They are getting treatment for serious conditions that the modeling world is known to exploit.
It is absolutely horrifying to see that the clinic where these people are recovering from serious illnesses is not an entirely safe environment, and worse yet to know that some of these dangerously thin people may succumb to the pressure of these professional recruiters. The end of the modeling industry’s rabid promotion of unhealthy bodies does not seem to be in sight, and instances like these only manage to worsen conditions for those who are ill.