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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Girl Model's only potentially positive take-away is the scout's confession that modeling is "based on nothing" and that beauty is such a subjective issue that each country has its own standard.
Positive Role Models
The young girls just want a better life for themselves and their families, but all of the other adults are basically exploiting these girls for their own gain.
Violence & Scariness
No violence, but there's much sadness watching the sobbing, homesick 13-year-old models attempt to contact their families back in Russia.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Although there's no actual sex in the documentary, there are obviously sexual overtones to the entire process/industry. The Siberian model agency boss alludes to the fact that the older the girl, the more likely she is to turn to high-end prostitution. In the scouting scenes, the girls are all wearing bikinis.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Nadya's family toasts to her (the adults with wine) at her last family meal before heading to Japan. A character smokes, and a man mentions how some models turn to drugs.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Girl Model is a documentary that chronicles the slightly seedy underbelly of the international fashion model industry. Beautiful Siberian girls are shown desperately trying to impress a modeling scout to score a contract to Japan. There's no objectionable language (and half of the film is subtitled), but there are definitely sexual overtones to why and how the 12- and 13-year-old models are selected and how older models who don't succeed turn to high-end prostitution to earn money. A couple of scenes show the young models sobbing and homesick while on the phone with their parents, and the modeling execs all come off as slightly sleazy and exploitative. But for any older tween or teen girl interested in modeling, it's an eye-opening view at how the business can be far uglier than the beautiful pictures imply. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
From the opening scene, in which dozens of barely dressed girls parade in front of Ashley, Girl Model is a difficult documentary to watch. It's cringe-inducing to see how these beautiful girls -- every one of them -- are picked apart for perceived imperfections. Every person involved in the modeling industry in this movie comes across as a collaborator or perpetrator of a corrupt, soul-sucking enterprise that damages the young women involved in it. As Nadya attempts to enjoy her experience, there's really little to call home about except for unending homesickness and literal hunger.
Ashley's candor, therefore, isn't just surprising but refreshing. She's not doing anything of substance, and she knows it. The industry is built on "nothing," she says, and is dictated by the aesthetic whims of a few arbiters of what's considered fashionable or beautiful. She's cynical, and for good reason: The girls she scouts for her Tokyo agency leave their families (and in some cases their innocence) in search of fame -- or at least a steady income -- that could never materialize. They can be sent packing for gaining as little as one centimeter at a time when their bodies are supposed to be developing. Eye-opening for any older girl curious about the potential pitfalls of modeling, this is a frank depiction of a frightening industry.
Did we miss something on diversity?
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