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How low can you go? Scouting for talent at eating disorder treatment clinics

Date: June 21, 2013 | Posted By: Katelin

Recently, as I was scrolling through news articles on my cell phone, I came across an article that caught my eye. The article was on the scouting of new talent by model agencies at the one place that they should NEVER be looking for talent: an eating disorder treatment clinic.

Photo of back of very thin model with shoulder blades and spine protruding.

No question. This is not healthy. This is NOT beautiful.

As someone who is in recovery from a vicious eating disorder, one that almost took my life on multiple occasions, I was horrified and disgusted just by the title alone, not to mention the thought that someone could and would sink so low (?!).

That horror turned to anger as I read the article, and the carelessness and thoughtlessness on the part of the modeling agencies became clear.

The model agencies were recruiting girls at the clinic so sick that they are wheelchair-bound, sending them the message that being unhealthy is not only okay, but it is “beautiful.”

I mean, come on now, really? How is it even possible to logically believe that recruiting severely sick girls and women from an eating disorder program is an ethically and morally viable idea?

How could they believe that using these sick girls as models would send a productive and positive message to females? How in their thought process did they not realize that what they were doing was WRONG?

Now, I don’t claim to know or understand how things operate in the model world (although I will admit to watching an episode or two of America’s Next Top Model), nor do I claim to know how the modeling world has come to be as it is today. However, given my own eating disorder experience and the fact that I have a VERY strong moral and ethical compass, I can say that this is just wrong in every possible way.

Not only are these model agencies sending girls and women with eating disorders unhealthy messages, but by using models that are unhealthy in advertisements and other media they are sending the message to females at large that the only way to be beautiful is to be unhealthy—in NO way is this true. As Katy Waldman notes in her critique here, “They wouldn’t know beauty if it bit them on the arsel.” Amen to that!

Graphic of clock with words "time to heal" written on it.

Treatment is a time to heal, reflect, and recover—any contrary messages can completely derail a recovery that is on track.

You can probably tell that I am not a fan of model agencies—I think that they warp reality and send unhealthy messages out to girls and women—but they are not going away anytime soon.

Given this, females around the globe need to stand up to these modeling agencies. The message has to be conveyed to the modeling world that under no condition will scouting at eating disorder clinics be tolerated, nor will the use of sick girls in advertising and media.

Leave these girls and women alone to heal and recover in peace. Stop sending unhealthy messages to females about what is beautiful.

Check out the news article on this story and tell me what you think. Is the fact that this is occurring as disturbing to you as it is to me? Any ideas on what can be done about it? How about trying some of these ideas from About-Face?

Katelin Jordan is a recent university graduate with a Bachelors Degree in General Studies, with concentrations in Sociology and Communications. While currently an eager jobseeker, her interest lies in social issues and social science research. She is the proud pet-parent of her two-year-old Manx-shorthair mix cats, Chocolate Chip and Oreo.

What Do You Think?

7 Responses to How low can you go? Scouting for talent at eating disorder treatment clinics

  1. Rima McQuestion on 06-21-2013

    They should hire a security guard company to put guards outside the clinic.
    • Luna on 07-14-2013

      They should... the girls may get their ED encouraged while modeling :(
  2. Emily Anna on 07-03-2013

    For people that have daughters with low self esteem, I want to tell you a way to enforce a better outlook on their appearance. I used to have an eating disorder, and my psychiatrist told me about this exercise. Each day you look in a mirror, pick one thing you like about your appearance, and one thing you like about your personality. You write it on a sticky note and stick it to the mirror. Each day you add a different thing, but leave the previous sticky notes on. You leave all of them on until the mirror is covered up enough that you can't see your complete reflection. If the experiment doesn't work, you start over.
    • Kristina Andersen on 07-29-2013

      First off I am so happy that you are recovering. I am trying to recover, but I am still struggling. Thank you so much for the help! I hope that it works!
  3. Luna on 07-14-2013

    I almost became anorexic... I ate 200-600 cals a day for 5 months and got a BMI of 16.1. I'm physically all better now with a BMI of 20. But I still feel fat. I'm glad I didn't become anorexic.
    • Kristina Andersen on 07-29-2013

      I am so glad that you hadn't fallen into the trap. Sadly I have fallen into the trap and I am struggling to get myself out of the trap.
      • Luna on 01-05-2014

        I do not have anorexia so I cannot fully empathise, but I know that a body image problem is painful to deal with. I suggest you check out edrecoveryprobs.com which is kind of like a support group and in-jokes.