Model Approved:Model Health during fashion week

Lindsay Ellingson, Anne-Marie Van Dijk, Doetzen Kroes; Photo: Paul Porter /

Model  Anne-Marie Van Dijk is on a mission to keep models healthy!

 Model health and wellness is a pertinent topic year round, but during fashion week it takes on a special importance. Thankfully, there are people fighting to keep the issue on our minds and do something about it. Model Anne-Marie Van Dijk‘s organization, CLEANSE is a wellness program geared towards educating models on nutrition, fitness and achieving their goals in a way that is healthy and sustainable. One the eve of CLEANSE’s launch MDC caught up with Anne Marie to find out more.

Anne-Marie Van Dijk

 MDC: What is your primary goal with this program and organization?
Anne-Marie Van Dijk: CLEANSE was founded to help models achieve their career goals in a healthy and sustainable way. We work with a team of top-notch professionals and partner with some of the city’s biggest agencies to give models the tools, services and support they need to stay fit and healthy throughout their careers. All of our programs are tailored to the unique needs of the model as well as those expressed by her agency.
When I first started out as a model there were few places to go to for guidance and support on the level of health and wellness. Questions such as how to maintain a working weight in a healthy way, how to take care of your skin, or where to find a qualified personal trainer were mainly left unanswered. In addition, I felt that very few health professionals had a proper understanding of the challenges a model faces. Modeling is such a specific profession that it almost takes a team of highly specialized professionals to meet their needs (just like with athletes). That is why I set out to create CLEANSE – to offer a support network and programs that are tailored for each model’s requirements.

MDC: How do you feel your own experiences as a model has contributed to the shaping of CLEANSE and can you name one experience that made you realize the importance of an initiative like your company?
AMVD: My experiences as a model have definitely helped me gain a better understanding of the industry, the work that is required of a model, as well as how to lead a healthy and balanced life.
Because there is so much glamour associated with modeling, people often forget simple things such as the emotional challenges that one faces when being away from family and friends. Whether you are a model or not we are all faced with contradictory messages that make it difficult to find clarity on how to lead a healthy life. Modeling requires you to be in top physical shape at all times. When I started out, my agents were very supportive but I realized that I needed extra guidance in the domain of health that even they could not provide. That is why I decided several years into my career to try to make it easier for the next generation of models. I believe that CLEANSE can serve as a roadmap for health and wellness that bridges the needs of both models and agencies.
MDC: What or who are some of your favorite collaborations for CLEANSE?
AMVD: At CLEANSE we believe that nourishing our bodies is as important as preserving our planet, hence the name “CLEANSE: One Body, One Planet”. Part of our mission is to highlight the connection that exists between our bodies and the earth, as well as support local, eco-friendly companies.
We have many wonderful partners who are all passionately committed to enhancing people’s lives as well as preserving the health and beauty of our planet; Pratima Spa, Blink Fitness, Sakara Life and Mauricio Hair Studio Privato, just to name a few. Members receive various benefits and discounts on all their products and services.
MDC: Why do you think there has been a definite growth in the industry in taking care of the models?
AMVD: I believe that for a long time models’ voices have gone unheard. As much as it is a privilege to be a model it is also a business and people can forget that models are often young and working in a grown-up world. I believe the industry is starting to realize this which is why some fabulous programs and initiatives have been set in motion.
The CFDA is helping raise awareness by highlighting some of the key health issues in our industry while Vogue recently launched its own Health Initiative. That marks a pivotal shift. There are some amazing projects that have been created by models themselves, such as Erin O’Connor’s Model Sanctuary in London, Elettra Wiedemann’s pop-up restaurant Goodness and Sara Ziff’s organization The Model Alliance. Together all these initiatives are creating a positive momentum.

MDC: What are some of your favorite products that help the models and help the earth?
AMVD: Three of my all time favorite products that nourish the body and the planet are Jiva Apoha’s body oils, Tata Harper’s Reparative Moisturizer and Rose Marie Swift’s Raw Coconut Cream. All three products are 100% natural, made from some of the earth’s purest ingredients while also keeping the health and beauty of our planet in mind.
MDC: What services does CLEANSE provide?
AMVD: CLEANSE provides a variety of services such as monthly classes which include cooking, yoga, meditation, and fitness classes – all adapted to a model’s lifestyle; coaching services, access to a team of health professionals, as well as a 24/7 Help Desk.
We are in the process of creating an entire directory of healthy eating places and have our very own Wellness Coach program. Each new model that signs up with a partnering agency receives a free wellness session with one of our Coaches. We translate an agency’s requirements into a wellness plan that can be easily followed and reap longterm benefits. In essence, we strive to help each model achieve and maintain her goals in a healthy way.

MDC: Can you name simple things that models can do to take good care of themselves?
AMVD: There are various things models can do to start feeling and looking their best.
My top tips are:
1. Focus on eating wholesome and unprocessed foods. Fruits and vegetables are mother nature’s vitamin pills!
2. Drink plenty of water. Your body needs an abundance of water to stay hydrated and get rid of toxins. Carry a reusable non-plastic bottle with you at all times.
3. Sleep a solid 8 hours per night. Sleeping improves your memory, enhances your senses and allows your body to heal itself on a cellular level.
4. Come prepared! If you are shooting in the city and are unsure of what the catering will be like that day, make sure to bring your own lunch or healthy snacks such as dried fruit and nuts, whole wheat crackers and/or Lara Bars.
5. Remain active. Physical activity in combination with a well balanced diet will help you stay lean, toned and strong.
Our site contains an entire health guide that’s been adapted specifically to a model’s lifestyle. Membership is free and all of our services are available for both models and agents. For more information, check out CLEANSE.