sao-paulo-fashion-week-paola-robba-fashion-show111Some modeling scouts are ruthless. High-fashion models are skinnier than the average woman, leading to rampant anorexia and other eating disorders within the business. The continually increasing statistics haven’t stopped some scouts from recruiting patients at Sweden’s Stockholm Center for Eating Disorders.

The Local, a Swedish newspaper, reports modeling agencies are congregating outside the Stockholm Center doors hoping to pluck a girl from treatment and transform her into the next supermodel.

Psychologist Andreas Birgegård, chair of the Swedish Anorexia and Bulimia Society, told The Local she’s disgusted by this poaching behavior. “If these allegations are true, it’s despicable. Really bad behavior.”

The last alleged incident forced the clinic to change its procedures for safety reasons. One patient was being transported by a wheelchair because she was so ill. Her condition didn’t stop a scout from approaching her, leading to a shift in where patients are allowed to roam during their free time.

Even children are being targeted. A 14-year-old patient was given a business card by a modeling agency headhunter. Christina Lillman-Ringborg, the girl’s mother and a Stockholm Center care coordinator, confronted the scout about approaching a girl suffering from a life-threatening 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.

She adds, “I was so upset because this girl was so skinny.”

Stockholm Center administrators are worried the scouts can derail their patients’ progress by promoting harmful Body Mass Index scores as normal or healthy.

Chief doctor Anna-Maria af Sandeberg told the Metro newspaper the behavior is “repugnant.” “It sends the wrong signals when the girls are being treated for eating disorders,” she said.

I agree. Fashion facilitates unhealthy body images for many women and girls. It is immoral and unethical to recruit models from an eating disorder clinic.

Christine Salek, a writer for Policy Mic, agrees. She sees this incident as the latest in a string of questionable behavior from modeling scouts. Salek writes:

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.

Salek also adds:

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.

Thankfully some modeling scouts won’t have much luck with getting sickly women on catwalks. Israel, Italy and several other fashion hotbeds have passed laws outlawing models with unhealthy BMI scores.

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