Sweden’s largest eating disorder clinic has an appalling problem, but it has nothing to do with the treatment – it’s the talent scouts looking to recruit models right outside. No, this is not a tasteless joke. The clinic recently told reporters at The Local that agents had given business cards to patients who were out for walks. Many of the patients were emaciated and in their teens. One was in a wheelchair.
The clinic changed their procedures for patient walks, and thankfully there hasn’t been a scouting incident for a year. But these instances speak to a much larger problem: Our culture’s idealization of extreme thinness. This problem isn’t isolated to Sweden. If you drove past a billboard this morning, or passed by the magazine rack at the grocery store, you know what I mean.
“It’s disgusting,” some of us might say as we toss Vogue onto the checkout counter. “But I can’t do anything about it.”
Yes, you can.
Societies change when citizens make change. You can take action today. Here are some steps you can take to make a difference:
- Don’t buy fashion magazines that idealize thinness
- Magazines influence what we view as the norm; Of elementary school kids who regularly read magazines, 69% say the images affect their idea of an ideal body shape (Field et al., 1999).
- Listen to your body
- If you’ve ignored your internal cues for a while, it can take work to learn what your body wants. But you can do it.
- Don’t participate in “Fat Talk”
- Saying “I’m so fat” hurts your self-esteem, but it also hurts those around you. If you’re “so fat,” what are they? Let your words set an example.
- Volunteer for an eating disorder awareness nonprofit
- Live in Minnesota? Check out The Emily Program Foundation
- Want to enact legislative change? Contact the Eating Disorders Coalition
- Love research? Consider the Academy for Eating Disorders
- Participate online