When I was in 9th grade I had a friend who was a model. She would often miss class to go on casting calls or to go to photo shoots. But one of the most disturbing things about it, besides how much time she missed from school, was how this 14-year-old girl, through the magic of make-up, would be transformed into what looked like a woman in her twenties. Her youth, her innocence, her naiveté all were masked by layers upon layers of cosmetics. From this I learned that world of the young model is an odd one, and many girls are thrust into this very adult world in a jarring way, often rossing the line from getting their big breaks to being totally exploited. This is something that is explored in the new documentary called Girl Model that is having its U.S. premiere this weekend at SXSW.
The film looks at the international modeling circuit and how scouts travel the world to recruit girls who are as young as just 12. Girl Model follows a scout named Ashley Arbugh and a 13-year-old model named Nadya Vall who lives in the impoverished town of Novosibirsk in Russia. Vall wins a trip to Tokyo and what was to be $8,000 for two months of work there. Vall must make the trip by herself and – as Jezebel mentions – must stay in a tiny “agency owned apartment” where she must pay rent. But the outlook isn’t bright: another Russian girl she befriends in Tokyo is sent home, and instead of going home with money, she finds herself $2,000 in debt.
It’s the ugly side of what – on the outside – looks like a glamorous world. You can check out the trailer for the movie below.
Do you think there should be an age limit on models? And should there be more world wide regulations on the use of young models?