Documentary film, Girl Model opens closed doors on the truth behind young girls fighting to survive the vicious world of modelling.
The film follows modelling scout, Ashley Sabin and 13-year-old Siberian model, Nadya whom she discovers. Together, they travel to Japan where an inexperienced Nadya is overwhelmed with casting calls, contracts, and financial issues. As if the language barrier wasn’t enough, Nadya continually struggles to find work and a way to make ends meet on her own.
Girl Model proves that the beautiful life of a model portrayed in magazines isn’t quite as beautiful as it seems.
Here’s the run down on Girl Model
Docs rock: The story is told through the eyes of the young models, scouts, and agencies. Your heart will ache for these characters.
Suspense: As we follow Nadya from Siberia to Japan, we wonder if she will land a shoot and become the next top model. Can Ashley handle the stress of her broken promises to these young girls?
Faze caught up with Rachel Blais (another model also featured in the movie) to talk about the struggles of working in the modelling industry.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a model?
I started working in Montreal when I was 16 and by 17, I went on my first international travel and worked full-time.
Did you feel a sense of independence while travelling on your own at such a young age or were you overwhelmed?
I think for most girls it is confusing at first. You don’t really know what’s going on. There is a sense of independence, but there is also the revelation that your independence comes at a price. When you’re 16, 17 and 18 you need to learn how to live on your own and to do what your parents would be doing for you while you were at home. Doing it all on your own, plus learning a new language and being in a new city where you don’t know anyone—you’re taken away from your environment, so it’s never an easy thing to do.
What are your thoughts on having a girl as young as 13 represent what an ideal woman should look like?
They are still just children. Socially, it’s been quite accepted that 18 is the age where you are legal and mature enough to vote and to go buy cigarettes, in some countries. In Canada, it’s 19 to drink and in some European countries it’s 18 and in the States it’s 21. How come we’re using 13-year-old girls, or even 17-year-old girls, to represent the image of the perfect woman? I find it very disturbing frankly.
What was it about Girl Model that made you want to get involved?
I think every girl who has modelled internationally can relate. It doesn’t matter if they started modelling at 13 or 18 or 22, there is a sense of relation to being taken away from your home and not having much information about what is going on. That to me makes it important to talk about and also the fact of opening eyes to these young girls. I want to protect these children, because they are children, and if they want to model then they can model in their own country with teen and child agencies that are career related.
Do you have any advice for young girls seeking a career in modelling?
If agencies or people that you meet tell you that you have the potential to be a model, but are asking you to pay money to become one then don’t do it. If you really have the potential to make money as a model you should not have to bring out money. Model conventions with agents and scouts will offer a lot of opportunities for girls. Whether it’s Toronto or Montreal or Vancouver, look to the biggest city closest to you and check out one of these conventions.
GIRL MODEL is now open at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema in Toronto
Written by Kelly Gabel