No, I’m not a model (as if you thought I was). But just like many of us, escaping the modeling world is a difficult task especially since we’re bombarded with advertisements every minute of the day. Whether it’s the cover of a magazine, a television commercial, or an Internet ad, we are continually faced with beautiful faces or bodies aimed at leading us to feel like we simply don’t measure up.
Recently I read an article via a friend’s status update and was appalled by the way models are now being recruited in some countries. The article focused on scouts waiting outside an eating disorder clinic to grab up severely ill patients when they stepped outside. It was mentioned how the modeling industry is allegedly guilty of weighing girls in public and I saw elsewhere recently how women are forced to do a Fashion Week cleanse. It’s a tragedy and yet so many young girls aspire to step into this world for the chance to be noticed.
Individuals in a treatment facility for eating disorders most often are battling deep-rooted issues that make them especially prone to accepting that business card from a modeling agent while on a daily walk outdoors. “Hmm, maybe staying sick isn’t such a bad idea. See, it can get me work and I can survive.” It can compromise the very goal for the individuals who are in treatment and can thrust them deeper into or back into a cycle that was already difficult to break. The insensitivity of the scouts mentioned in this article is sickening, disheartening, tragic, and flat out wrong!
As someone who was fortunate enough to recover from my eating disorder, I’m able to read this article and see the tragedy of the attempt to take advantage of vulnerability. Eating disorders, whether anorexia, bulimia, or compulsive overeating, are severe mental illnesses that kill thousands of men and women. And although popularly believed, these disorders rarely begin as an “I’m going to lose weight” scheme. In fact, research shows that many sufferers have been sexually abused, bullied, ignored, raped, etc. and the eating disorder is an attempt to regain some control within their lives. It may appear to those on the outside that these individuals are narcissistic, self-absorbed, weight-loss obsessed persons who will do anything to avoid gaining weight for the sake of beauty.
Certainly, these characteristics and behaviors can develop as a result of an eating disorder, but to say this is the total of an eating disorder is way off the mark. Those seeking treatment for these disorders often discover that they were trying hard to do everything for others and to be that “perfect” friend, spouse, daughter, employee, or student in an attempt to protect others from experiencing negative emotions or situations. Often, we are known as givers, selfless givers, who only want the best for those we love and are willing to put others first and ourselves second. We are frequently givers afraid of showing emotion because we want to be strong for everyone else. In the process, we lose ourselves and attempt to gain it back by engaging in unhealthy behaviors that we believe only has an impact on us.
The news of this latest attempt by modeling scouts to recruit severely ill eating disorder patients is the final straw for me. I stopped reading fashion magazines more than 5 years ago and have not missed them. I stopped watching America’s Next Top Model after hearing the critical feedback provided to naturally beautiful women. I’m saying a final goodbye to all things model for the sake of myself and those who are trapped by expectations of beauty.
The bottom line is that beauty is subjective and we all possess some level of it. My hope and prayer is that modeling scouts will either change jobs or stop hanging outside treatment centers like desperate panhandlers.
*If interested, here is a link to the article: http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/04/22/modeling_scouts_recruit_teen_patients_at_swedish_anorexia_clinic_are_you.html?fb_ref=sm_fb_share_blogpost