The documentary GIRL MODEL provides a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of the fashion industry, viewed from two perspectives: a former model turned scout, and a young Siberian girl being recruited. Co-director Ashley Sabin tells SUNfiltered that she hopes GIRL MODEL encourages viewers to “look beyond the image” and become more media-literate about fashion editorials, advertisements and models. The film brings to light the people and labor behind such images, challenging viewers to think about where their media come from. Modeling can demand a high cost of people, one that many consumers aren’t aware of.
Variety applauds the “gritty verite drama,” especially its “knotty psychological profile of [Ashley] Arbaugh, whose own video-diary entries from the mid’-90s – when she was modeling – provide a haunted glimpse into exploited youth. A visit to Arbaugh’s home in Connecticut, a spacious, rambling modernist dwelling with all the warmth of a bus station, is a creepfest: A pair of baby dolls sit upright on the couch in a living room devoid of almost all other decor. Arbaugh comments that she thought it was appropriate when she bought the house to buy the dolls, too. She has an overt desire for children and an apparent inability to have them; her need is palpable and pitiful, and the doll sequence has the mind reeling.”
If you’re not creeped out yet, check out the trailer, and imagine that right now, in some badly lit room in Siberia, a group of “Russian girls hoping to hit the big time, are parading their skinny innocence around in bargain-basement bathing suits.”