New Blood

Modeling Scouts Hunt for Fresh Faces at Swedish Eating Disorder Clinic

Officials at Sweden's largest eating disorder recovery facility say that modeling scouts have been sussing out new talent on their clinic's campus.

04.19.13 7:27 PM ET

** FILE ** A very thin model turns on the runway at the Zac Posen spring 2007 fashion show, Sept. 14, 2006, in New York. Fearing that young models strutting down the runways in New York City are too skinny, a lawmaker says there should be weight standards. Bronx state Assemblyman Jose Rivera wants to create a state advisory board to recommend standards and guidelines for the employment of child performers and models under the age of 18 to prevent eating disorders. (AP Photo/Stuart Ramson)

Stuart Ramson/AP

Swedish modeling agencies have been combing the country’s largest eating disorder recovery facility for new talent, say the clinic’s doctors. Officials at the Stockholm Center for Eating Disorders (Stockholms Centrum för Ätstörningar), have told reporters that patients have been approached by model scouts on numerous occasions. “We find this absolutely reprehensible,” Ana-Maria af Sandeberg, the facility’s chief doctor, told Metro. “They [talent scouts] have been standing outside our clinic and trying to pick up our girls because they know that they are skinny. It absolutely sends the wrong signals when what the girls need is treatment.”

The issue prompted clinic officials to reorganize patients’ schedules, since the scouts would often approach girls in their free time, on walks around the facility.  “They were outside the building and waiting for the girls to go out for a walk,” af Sandeberg told Swedish news agency TT. “One of those contacted was in a wheelchair because she was so skinny.”

Luckily the routine change has squelched the scouts’ efforts, for now (the AFP reports that the incidents stopped months ago). At the height of the problem, agency representatives were “courting severely ill girls aged 14 and 15,” explained Christina Lillman-Ringbor, one of the clinic’s care coordinators.

The Stockholm Center has not issued names of the perpetrating agencies, but the news has elicited response from Elite—one of the world’s most respected modeling organizations. Fredo Kazemi, director of Elite’s Stockholm board, labeled the scouting tactic as “disgusting and unethical. I do not think that any large, serous agencies would work in this way,” he told TT.