You've watched America's Next Top Model. You love E!'s Scouted. You can't get enough of NYLON TV's "Model Citizen" series.
But Girl Model tells a story unlike any of the above.
Directed by David Redmon and Ashley Sabin, the documentary exposes a different, far less glamorous side of the modeling industry. Set to haunting classical music, the story opens in the remote countryside of Siberia, where American model scout Ashley Arbaugh has arrived to find young girls to send to work in Tokyo. Arbaugh, a former model herself, knows exactly what she's looking for: young, innocent, and beautiful.
And this time it's Nadya, a sweet 13-year-old Russian girl, who's curious about what else the world has to offer, outside of picking currants with her grandmother and sharing a bed with her mother. So off she goes to Tokyo by herself, with a Russian-to-English dictionary and not enough money to buy herself a meal.
As the film unfolds, everything we fear for Nadya seems to come true: She's scammed, cheated, and completely left to fend for herself. And though we don't want to spoil the whole flick, we assure you there isn't much of a happy ending. As for Arbaugh, her reality appears equally bleak to the young girls' she "discovers." She's jaded, lonely, and stuck in business she's both addicted to and traumatized by.
Though definitely bleak, Girl Model tells a fascinating story far different than the glittery excitement witnessed backstage this past week at NYFW. But for that reason alone, it's all the more important to see.