Good Looks

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Model lifestyle: A new program makes modeling a healthier job

runway models

(Photo: Stilthelovely.com)

Young models learn how to walk the runway, pose for the camera, and make nice with egotistical designers. But now they’ll also be taught how to lead a healthier lifestyle—while managing the pressures of a brutal profession.

With her new company, Cleanse, 26-year-old model and do-gooder Anne-Marie Van Dijk is giving back to the industry that has shaped her life.

“You have to meet the physical measurements for the job. You need constant energy, and a constant glow,” she says. “With a lack of guidance, it’s easy to fall into a trap.” Especially since many models are teenagers when they’re starting out. Dijk should know. She became a model at 14—initially as a way to raise money for a campaign to free whales in captivity.

Van Dijk has already partnered with many of the biggest modeling agencies, and is in talks to recruit even more in New York, London, Paris, and Amsterdam.

Ann-Marie Van Djik

CLEANSE founder Ann-Marie Van Dijk

Here’s how the program works: A Cleanse counselor meets with models when they’re signed to an agency and creates a personalized healthcare plan for them. It may include a combination of sessions with handpicked nutritionists, psychologists, and personal trainers.

The program also offers models free classes in nutrition, yoga, holistic beauty, and more, and is partnering with healthy lifestyle companies like Pratima and Blink.

Who pays for all of this? Van Dijk is financing the company entirely from her own pocket for now, while she works to secure sponsorships and other revenue streams.

She laughs a little nervously when asked about her investment, but regains her poise as she stresses how passionately she believes in Cleanse’s ability to help young, vulnerable girls avoid a life of dangerous choices.

“It was never my dream to be a model,” says Van Dijk, who is confident she can encourage well-being in a profession often criticized for its unhealthy parameters (aka size-zero dress sizes). And as someone enmeshed in this world (Van Dijk’s still modeling full-time), she’d love for the change to come from within it. —Lisa Elaine Held

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