governments and fashion magazines can say whatever they want, but the industry isn't really changing: Officials at one of the largest eating-disorder treatment centers in the world have complained that modeling agencies have been scouting for new talent among their patients.It's like proof that
"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," the chief doctor at Sweden's Stockholm Center for Eating Disorders, Dr. Anna-Maria af Sandeberg, told the Metro newspaper.
One patient, a 14-year-old girl, was reportedly approached by an agent while she was still in treatment. The agent left her a business card, which infuriated the girl's mother, Christina Lillman-Ringbord, who later confronted the agent.
"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. "I was so upset because this girl was so skinny."
Just how many "healthy, normally slim young people" does one typically find in a place that treats patients for anorexia? We're guessing "um, none."
But that hasn't stopped the recruiters, according to Swedish news reports. One young patient was still in a wheelchair when a modeling agent tried to talk to her, the 1,700-bed treatment center reported. The incident forced them to change to route their patients take when they go out for walks.
Many of the girls approached last year were teenagers with body mass indexes (BMI) as low as 14. BMI depends on one's height, weight, and muscle mass, but a healthy one hovers between 18.5 and 24 for an adult woman.
"Initially, we put a lot of effort into bringing starvation and binge-eating/vomiting under control," officials explain on the treatment center's website. "After that we usually focus more on psychotherapeutic treatment of factors maintaining the eating disorder."
The job offers can seriously derail a girl's ability to get better.
"It is awful. Part of the disease is that you have a distorted body image, and you get a sudden flattery and a job offer," Lillman-Ringborn said. "It does not facilitate the treatment of the disease."
Sweden may not be the only country where agents scout for skinny girls in inappropriate places. Despite international efforts to enforce healthier weight standards, the industry has a long way to go. According to Model Alliance's Sarah Ziff, 64 percent of fashion models have asked to lose weight by their agencies, even though the average fashion model already weighs 23 percent less than the average woman, ABC News reports.
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