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Featured DVD Review: Girl Model

February 10th, 2013

Girl Model - Buy from Amazon

Girl Model is a documentary on modeling, which is a profession that most people associate with glamor. Is that an accurate assessment? That's what this film will try and show us. Is it effective in that goal? Will those interested in fashion want to check it out? Does it have wider appeal?

The Movie

The film begins in Siberia with a casting call. What looks like hundreds of girls are trying out to be models. We meet Ashley Arbough, a former model turned modeling scout for Noah Models. During this particular outing, she meets Nadya Vall, who is a country girl and just 13 years old. She is chosen as the Ms. Elite Stars and is hired to go to Tokyo. For Nadya, this is the big break she's been looking for to help her family rise out of poverty. However, in order to secure a financial future for her family, she will have to leave them and move to Tokyo and live with another underage model, not knowing the language and without adult supervision.

Here's where we get a bit of history repeating itself. When Ashley Arbough was a teenage model, she too worked in Japan. We see home movies she shot at the time and it is clear it wasn't a great experience for her. When she talks about the experiences for the film, it is equally clear the experience was worse than she lets on.

This is the heart of the documentary. We get a lot of hints about how bad the situation can be. It is obviously these girls are being sexualized at a time in their life when they are not ready for it. This in itself is disturbing and creepy, but it can get much, much worse, including prostitution. There's an unending supply of girls who are desperate to have a better life, but when they are alone in a strange city and they don't speak the language, it is easy to be taken advantage of. This is especially true if the modeling jobs don't come fast enough to cover their living expenses, which is a common occurrence. Even if the girls don't fall victim to that, being a model and being told you are too fat and at 16 you are too old can also leave deep psychological scars.

The Extras

Extras include six additional clips with a total running time of 15 minutes. There are also biographies for the two filmmakers.

The Verdict

Girl Model is powerful and disturbing and a must see, especially for those who are interested in fashion. The DVD isn't loaded with extras, but there's enough to make it worth picking up.

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Filed under: Video Review, Girl Model, Ashley Arbough, Nadya Vall