Modeling Scouts Recruiting Patients at Anorexia Clinic for the Runway


Just when we though that things were turning around for the modeling industry in the fight against eating disorders comes news of modeling scouts trying to recruit patients with anorexia for the runway.


Modeling scouts are recruiting at eating disorder clinics. We aren’t making this up.

Photo by YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images

Modeling scouts have been gathering outside of Sweden’s largest eating disorder clinic, trying to lure critically thin patients onto the runway.

Let me type that again, with annotations. Modeling scouts—known for weighing young girls in public like cattle and targeting down-and-out families, but perhaps not for exploiting the life-threatening delusions of sick teenagers—were gathering—in the plural, so more than one person thought this was okay—outside of Sweden’s largest eating disorder clinic. They were there to recruit anorexic girls to their agencies, because where else would you search for perilously skinny young women who are unlikely to put on weight? Anna-Maria af Sandeberg, chief doctor at the 1,700-bed Stockholm Center for Eating Disorders, told the Metro newspaper, “People have stood outside our clinic and tried to pick up our girls because they know they are very thin.” “It sends the wrong signals,” she added.

The Local reports that the clinic had to change when and where patients could take their daily walks around the grounds because girls kept getting approached. One 14-year-old was handed a business card; an agent interviewed another girl who was so emaciated that she had been confined to a wheelchair. When care coordinator Christina Lillman-Ringborg tried to explain to the scouts that her charges “suffered from a serious illness,” the article continues, quoting Lillman-Ringborg, “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.”

A remedial business ethics lesson: If you’re looking for “healthy, normally slim young people,” you may not want to start at a medical center designed to treat women whose low weights have resulted in their hospitalization. On the other hand, if you’re committed to “never [urging] anyone to lose weight,” collecting a stable of anorexic models is probably a good move. The eating disorder will do all the urging for you!

Of course, scouts are probably well aware of this, since up to 40 percent of models suffer from some kind of eating disorder. What’s shocking about the story is not so much what it reveals about definitions of beauty in the fashion industry—although the notion that agents are raiding hospitals for exemplars of contemporary loveliness is pretty disturbing—but how little people in the business seem to care about the health of the women who are making them rich. Or, indeed, of women in general. One-fifth of girls and women diagnosed with anorexia die a premature death. Sixty to 70 percent never fully get better. Can we even imagine how confusing and harmful it might be for an eating disordered teenager, trying to recover, to hear praise for her rail-thin frame? To hear that it might propel her into a glamorous career? Heartless, perverse, exploitative crap like that makes the world a more toxic place for all of us. So, Stockholm Center patients, if you’re reading this, sip a milkshake, enjoy your body as it returns to health, ignore those monsters outside. They wouldn’t know beauty if it bit them on the arsel.

Instagram Rolls Out New Web Profiles For Members

Instagram has just rolled out Web Profiles for their members. Now you can see anyone’s Instagram page right from your web browser making it very easy to view and navigate pictures. All you have to do to check out you or your friends Instagram profile page is type the following in your web browser replacing “ferradas” with your own profile name.

Kate Moss Confesses to Nervous Breakdown

When Kate Moss landed the Calvin Klein ad campaign with Mark Wahlberg, it helped propel the then-teen to superstardom in the modeling world. The black-and-white photos, snapped in 1992, featured the two stars pressed up against one another with Wahlberg’s muscular arms (and abs!) a stark contrast to Moss’ frail frame. While the images have become an iconic representation of the era, and launched the “heroin chic” look of skinny models with dark circles under their eyes, Moss has regrets about participating in the shoot, saying it caused her emotional issues.

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“I had a nervous breakdown when I was 17 or 18, when I had to go and work with Marky Mark and Herb Ritts,” Moss, 38, says tells Vanity Fair“It didn’t feel like me at all. I felt really bad about straddling this buff guy. I didn’t like it. I couldn’t get out of bed for two weeks. I thought I was going to die.” She finally pulled herself out of bed to seek professional help — not that it was the answer to her problems either. “I went to the doctor, and he said, ‘I’ll give you some Valium,’ and [photographer] Francesca Sorrenti, thank God, said, ‘You’re not taking that.’ It was just anxiety. Nobody takes care of you mentally. There’s a massive pressure to do what you have to do. I was really little, and I was going to work with Steven Meisel. It was just really weird — a stretch limo coming to pick you up from work. I didn’t like it. But it was work, and I had to do it.”

Photos: 25 Years in the Life of Model Kate Moss

Another traumatic experience as a young model was posing topless for the first time — when she was only 16. “They were like, If you don’t do it, then we’re not going to book you again,” the British beauty recalls. “So I’d lock myself in the toilet and cry and then come out and do it. I never felt very comfortable about it.” One reason? “I hated my boobs! Because I was flat-chested. And I had a big mole on one.”

Moss with Johnny Depp (Getty Images)Moss says things changed for the better after meeting Johnny Depp at a Manhattan restaurant when she was 20. Their relationship, which lasted from 1994 to 1998, was by all accounts a tumultuous one, and when Depp infamously trashed a New York City hotel room, it was reportedly as a result of a fight with Moss. However, Moss says that Depp gave her a stability that she hadn’t felt before. “There’s nobody that’s ever really been able to take care of me. Johnny did for a bit. I believed what he said,” Moss shares. “Like if I said, ‘What do I do?,’ he’d tell me. And that’s what I missed when I left. I really lost that gauge of somebody I could trust.” So how did she weather the split? “Nightmare,” she tells the magazine. “Years and years of crying. Oh, the tears!”

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Through the years, Moss earned her own reputation — as a party girl. Her relationship with troubled rocker Pete Doherty immediately comes to mind, as does her 2005 cocaine scandal. The supermodel playfully tells Vanity Fair that her friends coined an expression for her, “getting Mossed.” She defines it, saying, “It means, I was gonna go home, but then I just got led astray. In the best possible way, of course. I mean, it’s always fun, and a good time.”

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(Mert Alas & Marcu Piggot/Vanity Fair)Moss with hubby Jamie Hince (Getty Images)

These days she’s still having a good time — but it’s with her new husband, Jamie Hince, and her 10-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, Lila Grace. “I don’t really go to clubs anymore. I’m actually quite settled,” Moss says. “Living in [the London neighborhood] Highgate with my dog and my husband and my daughter! I’m not a hell-raiser. But don’t burst the bubble. Behind closed doors, for sure I’m a hell-raiser.”

[Related: Kate Upton lands first Vogue cover (video)]

For more of Moss’ interview, pick up the December issue of Vanity Fair, on newsstands November 6

The Worlds Busiest Fashion Photographer, Mario Testino

If Mario Testino, who jetted into Los Angeles from London barely 12 hours earlier, would rather be some place else, such as his gorgeous 1933 Spanish-style hacienda in the Hollywood hills, he doesn’t betray it. From the moment the world’s busiest fashion and portrait photographer bounds into the hotel he is all grace and charm. When we photograph him, he is at once the master of ceremonies. It’s as if he can’t help treating the shoot as if he was the one behind the camera. Which, of course, is where he spends much of his waking life. “I work 14 hours a day, every day,” he says. “I work most Saturdays and most Sundays.”

If you’re imprudent enough to suggest that his nonstop schedule sounds like hell, Testino will cut you short. “It’s not,” he protests. “It’s amazing; I adore it. It’s exciting. Every day a new city, new people, new everything. I can’t get enough of it.” Does he never feel the impulse to idle away a day in his slippers and pyjamas? Apparently not. “I spend, maximum, four or five days in a place at a time, except for my holidays,” he says. “You know that most photographers die on a shoot? Helmut Newton died on assignment. [Irving] Penn too. [Richard] Avedon was still working when he died. We don’t retire. We just carry on.”

At 57, the world’s most prolific magazine photographer is just getting started. It’s only 15 years, after all, since his career exploded in the wake of his 1997 Vanity Fair shoot with Diana, Princess of Wales. In 2010 he shot the engagement photos of Wills and Kate, and it’s entirely conceivable that, should the time come, he’ll photograph their children’s engagement portraits. Or how about Kate Moss as a grandmother? By Testino’s estimate, he’s shot the supermodel several thousand times. What does he find so appealing about her? “She’s fun, generous, she has taste, she’s beautiful,” he says. “I don’t know what it is we have, because I’m so much older than her, and she’s rock’n’roll, but if we’re in the same room we’ll be sitting next to each other within five minutes.”

Moss also happens to be the poster girl for In Your Face, a major new exhibition of Testino’s work that runs at Boston‘s Museum of Fine Arts until 3 February. It is billed as a retrospective, but don’t for a minute let that fool you into thinking Testino is slowing down. “My favourite words are possibilities, opportunities and curiosity,” he says. “I think if you are curious you create opportunities, and then if you open the doors, you create possibilities. People close doors all the time, but I look at some pictures I take today and think they are so much better than pictures I took 10 years ago because I haven’t stopped growing, and I don’t ever want to stop growing.”

Growing up as one of six children in a middle-class family in Peru, Testino had a fearless independence that set him apart from the crowd. His fashion sense, in particular, marked him out as a threat. “They screamed at me in the street: ‘Faggot,'” he recalls. “All my allowance went on taxi fares. I couldn’t take public transport the way I dressed – imagine David Bowie walking in Rome. Well, I wasn’t David Bowie, but the way I looked to them was quite flamboyant.” He says arriving in London in 1977, as a 22-year-old, was a revelation. “South America was not really that open – you had to fit in, and I didn’t fit in. I was different – my tastes, my point of view – were a bit weird, and I found in Britain a sense of calm, that I could just be.”

The 1970s – “a prolonged downpour with a single burst of sunshine”, as Andrew O’Hagan memorably described it – was not a propitious time to be in England, but Testino loved it from the day he arrived. “England gave me a chance,” he says. “It’s a very individual country where people have a personal style; they don’t all follow a trend. The subtlety and wit of England is incredible, and they are very creative.”

In London Testino dyed his hair pink and moved into an apartment in an abandoned hospital just off the Strand. He and his friends threw parties dressed as doctors and nurses, and the occasional emergency-ward patient. Freed from the conventions of Peru, Testino flourished. By the time he decided to pick up a camera in 1980 he had already established himself at the centre of a group of gregarious friends whose social life he documented in candid snapshots rich in spontaneity and gesture. While his personal work reflected his easy wit and charm, however, his professional portraits tended towards the formal compositions of the English photographers he most admired: Cecil Beaton, Diana Cooper, Norman Parkinson.

Only in the mid-90s, galvanised by then editor of French Vogue, Carine Roitfeld, did Testino realise he was impersonating a style that didn’t become him. “I was so in awe of everybody in the fashion business in England that I listened to them a lot, and not enough to myself,” he says. “At the end of the day you have to be you. You can’t be anybody else. If you speak loudly and people tell you to speak quietly, you can do it for a little bit, but loud people are loud, and people who are not, are not.”

Exuberance clearly becomes him. Hamish Bowles, international editor at large for Vogue, met Testino in the early 80s and recalls a trip to Seville to shoot a story for Harpers & Queen, where Bowles was then fashion and style director. Although they had no budget for locations, Testino directed their driver to take them to the richest neighbourhood in the city. “Mario leapt out at the very chicest, richest-looking house of all and, while I squirmed in embarrassment on the back seat, proceeded to chat up the owner, who was tending flowers in the front garden.” The upshot was that Testino and Bowles were soon the toast of Seville. “Dinners were thrown for us hither and yon,” recalls Bowles. “We shot in the most ravishing, utterly private houses in the city. The pictures, dripping with atmosphere and attitude, were a wild success.”

Sixteen years separate Testino’s first royal portrait and his now-famous session with Princess Diana for Vanity Fair, shot shortly before her death in 1997, and the circumstances between those two shoots is a study in contrasts and reflects the ambition that propelled him to the front ranks of portrait photography. In 1981 Testino had the serendipity to find the perfect perch from which to photograph the route of the wedding of Charles and Diana. “I was sitting on top of a mailbox in the street, part of the masses, looking at this procession of carriages, and I took a picture of the Queen Mother in her carriage with Prince Edward,” he recalls. “She looked like she saw me and knew me – she looked straight into the camera.”

That portrait, as well as those of Princess Diana – “We died laughing,” he recalls of the celebrated shoot – are included in a separate exhibition at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, discreetly set apart from the broader body of Testino’s work with its combustible mix of sex and celebrity. Testino has too much respect for the monarchy (and too much savvy) to hang a portrait of William and Kate next to a mooning Brazilian. In his non-magazine work, in particular, there is a lot of flesh, a lot of sensual bodies in close proximity. The jacket of his first book, Any Objections, published in 1998, shows a broad panorama of male sunbathers lounging with each other on Rio’s Ipanema beach. Shots inside get more intimate: Naomi Campbell, dress hoisted around her waist, and Kate Moss, pants around her ankles, sitting on toilets opposite each other; three handsome young men lolling naked in bed; a young man in Tangiers failing to conceal his arousal.

“I never notice a difference between photographing a man and a woman; for me, it’s just somebody,” says Testino. “I’ve never wanted to call myself any sexuality, because I hate the idea of taking freedom away from you, and I think we all can be everything. I understand that at moments you have to define it, but my sexuality has been so wide and open, and that’s what’s influenced my way of working. I think it’s given me freedom, my sexuality.”

His openness is also, perhaps, at the root of his chameleon-like ability to move through different societies without arousing suspicion. He remembers visiting New York as a 13-year-old and brazenly introducing himself to a table of strangers in a restaurant. “My mum was, like: ‘How can you do that? How can you just talk to anybody?’ I think from then on my mother understood that I was meant for the world, in a way. She was very generous because she allowed me to be me; she didn’t try to make me fit into her agenda, as most parents in Peru did back then.”

Testino’s mother also warned him when he moved to London that he’d never feel 100% English or 100% Peruvian, though his endless roaming has turned him into a consummate cosmopolitan, at ease in almost any city. “I get laughed at by my English friends because they sometimes say I know more about the subtleties of England than they do, and I celebrate it a lot,” he says. “As much as I am into the new and the cutting edge and the underground, I’m also very much into tradition. Just because you like Italian food it doesn’t mean you abandon Chinese food, French food or Japanese food. I like everything.”

Nor does he apparently tire of coming back for seconds and thirds. While shooting Keira Knightley for the cover of an upcoming issue ofAllure, the pair worked out they’d shot together at least 10 times – unusual for an actor, since they only shoot when they have a project to promote.

“Anna Wintour is another,” says Testino. “Every year I go to photograph her for the Met Ball – her, her kids.” He tells a story of being summoned to shoot a passport photo of Wintour and her first child, which seems a tad unnecessary, yet also perfect. His persistence in shooting Gisele Bündchen is widely credited with elevating her to supermodel status. “Nobody liked her, nobody wanted her,” he says. “I had to fight to get her into my stories because nobody thought she was right – too this, toothat, the nose, the breasts, the waist. But I believe in being obsessed, in getting obsessed.”

Although Testino has shot many women, from Madonna to Lady Gaga, he regrets not having the opportunity to shoot more men. “I never photographed Sean Penn,” he says ruefully, and then frowns. “Actually I did. At a party. It’s a great picture – he’s lighting a cigarette for Naomi [Campbell]. For a while they used to say that I document men better than women, but there’s no business in men, so I started to photograph women like crazy.”

Lately the photographer has found himself drawn back to his native Peru, where his mother recently celebrated her 90th birthday. “It’s a funny thing, how we start in one place and we end up some place else,” he says. “But now I’m being pulled back to my country – it’s my duty, almost.” Last July he launched a new arts foundation, Asociación Mario Testino, or Mate, that houses a large collection of his photography as well as the work of other Peruvian artists.

“I find Peru incredibly happening at the moment and I think I have a role there,” he says. “I think the problem with my generation is that we didn’t have communication – nothing we have today to access the world existed back then. It made people closed-minded, and today it’s like being anywhere else in the world.”

Oddly for a photographer whose work is now in the collections of major museums and galleries, Testino claims to be unconcerned with legacy. “I compare life to a party, and when it’s over, its over,” he says. “I didn’t feel I needed children, either. People feel they need children because they’re leaving something behind. I don’t need to leave anything behind. The only thing that concerns me is the now.”

He is a man who will soon be on his way to another country, another shoot, another day.

Written by Aaron Hicklin from