Models, Eating Disorders, and Labor

Last week was National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and Autumn Whitefield-Madrano of The Beheld relates some of her thoughts after attending a panel discussion about models who suffer from eating disorders.

Models are good girls. Not literally, and not always—plenty of “bad girl” vices, specifically upper-type drugs, are everywhere in model-land, and obviously the industry, like any other, can encompass a huge variety of personality types. But modeling requires a good deal of compliance, perhaps the number-one good-girl trait. You’re managed and molded by an agent, selected by a client, styled by a hairstylist and makeup artist, posed by a photographer, tweaked by a computer. You are there to be handled and worked on; models bring skill and charisma, yes, but they’re also often treated as props. Now, patients with EDs aren’t necessarily more compliant than the average person, but there’s often a clash that happens, particularly with teenagers (an age when many patients first experience symptoms): You see the compliance that’s expected of you, but you’re also aware of your own growing agency. One way to make sense of this clash is to internalize it in a way that serves as both rebellion and compliance: an eating disorder.

Worth reading.