Model Scouts Look For Talent Outside Of Eating Disorder Clinic And I’m Going To Go Cry Now

shutterstock_34212721__1366470722_142.196.167.223I wish I was surprised by the news that modeling scouts were trying to recruit new models by standing outside of Stockholm’s largest eating disorder clinic. I’m just not.

Because of the incidents which started happening about a year ago, doctors at the Stockholm Center For Eating Disorders had to change its procedures for the walks that patients take outside the clinic. From

Doctors working at the clinic said talent scouts would approach girls after they exited the clinic to go on walks.

Many of the girls approached last year were teenagers and some had a body mass index — a measurement of a person’s height-to-weight ratio — of as low as 14. A healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9 for an adult woman.

What kind of message does this send to young women who are trying to get healthy? Who knows how each case varies? I’m sure not all of these young women went into treatment willingly. How do you help someone get healthy, while at the same time reinforcing the sick ideal that the emaciated body is a symbol of fashion perfection?

As someone who struggled with an eating disorder in my teens and twenties, I can tell you that the positive reaction to the way my body was changing from everyone around me really drove my acceptance of the disorder. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with what I was doing. How could doing whatever possible to stay thin be a bad thing when everyone was noticing how “good” I looked and giving me positive attention? The actions of these modeling scouts targeting young women is deplorable.

I’m currently expecting my second child – a girl – in May. I have to admit many times I have thought I hope she takes after her dad – what with his long, lean limbs and his lightening-fast metabolism. Not because I would prefer that she was thin – quite the contrary. I just don’t want her to ever experience the body image issues that plagued me as a teenager – and led to bad decisions and some really awful health effects. Admittedly, I came from a household with a total body-obsessed mother. My child definitely won’t have that problem.

But back to these awful scouts:

“They claimed that they approach healthy, normally slim young people and that they never urge anyone to lose weight; that’s how they defended themselves,” care coordinator Chistina Lillman-Ringborg told the TT news agency.

“We think this is repugnant. People have stood outside our clinic and tried to pick up our girls because they know they are very thin,” chief doctor Anna-Maria af Sandeberg told the Metro newspaper. “It sends the wrong signals when the girls are being treated for eating disorders.”

It sure does. I wish I could see an end to our weight-obsessed culture. I’m just not sure how any of this is going to change. I can only do my part by repeatedly trying to send a message of self-acceptance to young women – and raising my own daughter to love her body – whoever she ends up taking after.

(photo: yalayama/

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  • Tea

    Holy… I… I’m out of words. This is repulsive behavior, and while I tend to be extremely hesitant to give blanket, sweeping statements, these people are scum. They’re ruining a life, they’re hurting someone who’s trying to get help and that can be the hardest part, and it’s brutal to reach the point of finally knowing you have a problem and getting help, only to fall right back in and land on your face.

    I’m probably projecting on this, but I am seriously mad right now. This is not okay, not even a little bit.

    • Guerrilla Mom

      I know – it’s terrible.

  • CrazyFor Kate

    Even if your daughter is thin, she will likely find SOMETHING on her body to be upset about. Sad but true. It’s all about her own perception, not what’s real. I wish this was a more hospitable world for all bodies, I really do.

    • Guerrilla Mom

      You’re so right :(

  • Byron

    It’s common knowledge that thin girls look…ah…how did one model agent eloquently put it…”mighty fuckable”, so of course they’d target them.

    Hey, at least they’re not hiding any more, at least they’re out in the open. Maybe this’ll bring their eventual demise now that they won’t be able to deny anymore.

    It’s hard for me in a way though, because for whatever reason I do find skinny girls attractive. I dunno if that’s the culture’s effect or whatever at work or of it’s just natural but it is there and I can’t help but accept it. On the other hand, I have this habit of cooking large feasts for people I like so any skinny girl who were to date me would most definitely NOT go undernourished and would likely put on a few pounds through it all. :P

    • Tea

      Eh, there’s a big difference between skinny and eating disorder. Some people are half humming bird, and there’s no shame in liking any body type. The problem is supporting a mental health condition and exploiting it.

  • Paul White

    Well, that’s all sorts of fucked up. I’m not sure what’s next; liqour stores next to AA offices?

  • Valeri Jones

    I would like to see the “fashion industry” regulated by the FDA. Then maybe they could put some kind of limits on how thin a girl can be. Every time you see bill board or a model or anything, it is always tiny tiny girls and they are probably a minority in this country. It’s definitely sending the wrong signal to our younger girls. I did a study on this in one of my classes – about how girls’ body images are affected by the media. Did you know that in a class of kindergartners that I interviewed, 9 out of the 12 girls thought they needed to lose weight? 5 year olds!!! When asked why, almost all of them said it was because they wanted to be like so-and-so on a TV show or an older sister or relative who was “skinny.” It would be nice if some kind of federally regulated program stepped in and said, “Hey, this isn’t what girls are supposed to look like, so let’s make this thing a little more realistic.”

    I know there are some girls out there who are naturally tiny and can eat like a horse and not gain an ounce. But that’s not most girls, and little girls need to know that it’s okay if you’re not a size 0, that it’s okay if you’re short, or if you have curves or muscle tone or… ya know… Looked like you might have eaten dinner sometime in the last week.