Sweden’s largest eating disorders treatment clinic, the 1,700-bed Stockholm Center for Eating Disorders, says it has an unusual problem: scouts for Sweden’s biggest modeling agencies who congregate outside its doors, persistently trying to recruit patients.
“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.” […]
In one incident, an agent with one of Sweden’s largest modelling agencies approached a 14-year-old girl and left a business card.
The girl’s mother and care coordinator Chistina Lillman-Ringborg later confronted the agent, explaining that the girl suffered from a serious illness.
“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,” Lillman-Ringborg told the TT news agency.
Indeed it seems highly unlikely that an agency would have to waste its time “urging” a girl to lose weight when she is already anorexic to the point of hospitalization. Just pick her up out of that wheelchair, get that girl some five-inch heels, and stick her on the next flight to Paris. What could possibly go wrong!
Over the years, the media has highlighted some pretty outrageous behavior from modeling scouts (who are generally autonomous operators within the modeling economy, traveling widely in search of young talent and getting paid a finder’s fee per head by the major agencies with which they are affiliated). Scouts in South America who use their knowledge of colonial history and European settlement to search for white models in countries like Brazil, where the population is majority non-white. Scouts in Russia luring impoverished teenagers into modeling with tales of the financial security they will enjoy, but leaving them with interrupted educations and tens of thousands of dollars in debt. But scouts actually recruiting for models outside an eating disorder treatment clinic pretty may be the most despicable of all the horrible model scouting news stories we’ve ever heard.