I was down with the flu, so I spent my sick day watching a documentary I’d been wanting to see for a while about young girls in the modeling industry. It’s a little different from “Picture Me”, though. Video embedded after the blog!
Against the creepy backdrop of some Aphex Twin sounding music, “Girl Model” invites you into the twisted world of teen modeling. We follow Nadya, a beautiful 14 year old Russian girl who is sent to Japan to try and launch a modeling career so that she might help support her humble home.
I already get a sense that her family is a little strange. Her mother keeps telling her about how she’ll have to wash her privates under the shower (since they don’t have bidets in Japan) and her Grandmother talks in a wistful, faraway voice about how they’ve slept in the same bed since Nadya was little.
Is that just how the Russians are? Maybe? Let’s just move on, seeing as it gets weirder:
However lovely Nadya is, I feel the most interesting story is found in the Ashley chick, who books young models like Nadya and seemingly takes advantage of them.
Speaking with one of her associates at Switch Agency, she even says, “If you catch these girls at 12 or 13 when they are at the delicate stages of their life, you have more power or influence to guide and direct…”
Upon my first watch, I thought she was just some crazy sociopath.
After thinking about it more clearly, though, I was sure she was a crazy sociopath.
The best was the scene in her house. First, the filmmakers were smart in juxtaposing the humble livings of Nadya’s solitary confinement style apartment against Ashley’s huge Connecticut glass house with a swimming pool.
The inside is pristine with a faux fireplace.
She always talks looking upward and away, wears this eternal expression of a sad smile, constantly seems seconds from a nervous breakdown, and speaks in a small voice not unlike Salad Fingers’. She proceeds to explain to the camera crew her paranoid delusions about people looking into her house at night, right before showing them these random dolls she says she “bought with the house to make it feel like a home”.
“Okay,” I say to myself, “She can’t have kids, so maybe she just keeps them around to keep hope alive… or something.”
Until she says this:
“Yeah… there are two – one boy and one girl,” She pauses and then as she turns to walk away, she says nonchalantly, “I had three, but I dissected the third one.”
Finally, she brings the filmmakers into a room and says “This is my favorite little spot. I had these boxes made for these little mini prints,” (cue to a box full of pictures of models’ miscellaneous body parts who weren’t aware they were being filmed)
“See,” she says laughing, “I hid my camera so that they wouldn’t know I was photographing… Sometimes I just photographed their feet or their hands.”
Again, the amazing cameraman zooms away to show creepy doll in the foreground as the booker rummages in the background through her Dexter-esque Ice Truck Killer style photo collage.
I also noticed how whenever she speaks about the girls (especially when she’s talking about doing something she knows is wrong), instead of using a pronoun at the end, she lets her sentence trail off in order to objectify…
(^ Kind of like that.)
Okay, so we’ve got a deluded, paranoid woman who lives solo in a giant house, admits to enjoying having power over young women, confides that she dissects doll babies, and has SPECIAL BOXES made for the photographs she secretly took of young girls’ body parts.
Anyone want to check out the crawl space under the house?
As for Nadya and her roommate, they can’t find work, they hate living in a country with a strange language, and they’re starving to death. They hate it all so much that they would literally rather go back to their humble existence. So they start to read over their contract and find a loophole that would get them kicked out of the agency.
And there it is.
“I’m going to start eating more candies right now!” one rejoices.
They’re only 13 or 14. I can’t blame them for not fully knowing what they were getting into. I can only hope that they don’t get chewed up and spat out by the industry like so very many do.
As for Ashley, on the other hand, I can’t help but wonder if she wasn’t always that way. She was a model for ages before she started doing the booking. Is it possible that she was innocent and normal when she started modeling at age pre-pubescent? Might the industry have taken advantage of her for so long that she now just wants to turn the tables and be the one dealing the beatings?
Anyone else see a cycle here?