Model agents scouted girls at anorexia clinic

Scouting for models among anorexic patients has apparently happened outside of Sweden's largest anorexia clinic about a year ago – and may still be going on. Metro newspaper revealed Thursday that one or more model agents have gone up to teenagers being treated for eating disorders to try to recruit them.

The Stockholm Center for Eating Disorders on the city's Södermalm island is said to be the biggest such clinic in Scandinavia. According to the newspaper, one or more modeling agents have been known to approach the teenagers suffering from anorexia when they went out for walks together, or simply when girls visited the clinic.

"They knew our times, and could approach the girls then," Anna-Maria af Sandeberg, a doctor at the clinic, tells the newspaper. "We think it's completely reprehensible. They stood outside the clinic and picked our girls, because they know they're extremely thin. It sends completely the wrong message, to girls who are getting treated for eating disorders at the same time."

af Sandeberg tells Swedish Radio P3 News that the agent or agents simply stood outside and made contact with her patients. "It's a cynical world," she says, confirming for the Swedish Radio reporter that she knows this has happened.

According to the news agency TT, one of the patients who was approached by a model agent was so thin that she was in a wheelchair.

Christina Lillman-Ringborg, the care coordinator at the clinic, tells Metro that several parents have reacted, she says it's awful, and that part of the illness is having a distorted body image, and then to suddenly get flattered and a job offer . . . . That, she says, doesn't make treating the illness easier.

Swedish Radio rang around to a number of different modeling agencies to find out which would have tried to approach anorexic girls outside the clinic, but none wanted to have anything to do with this kind of scouting.

Fredro Kazemi, the CEO of Elite Model in Stockholm says that he's strongly convinced that the big model agencies in Stockholm don't work that way. He adds that it's so unethical no one would dare do something like this.

Madeleine Lithander, the CEO of the smaller agency Mady Models, tells Swedish Radio News she has not heard of any specific cases, but she says she is not surprised and that people use all kinds of methods to find such ultra-thin models.

Since the incident or incidents, the clinic has stopped having patients go for walks together, Metro says, but the clinic says model agents may still be trying to recruit their patients.