I've decided to start a new series that I'm really excited about! "Glamorous Reads" will be my reviews and opinions on books about style that fits my fancy. I have a HUGE list I've read (or watched) about fashion that I can't wait to review for you and that I think any fashionista will enjoy snuggling up with. Most are quite light-hearted books but for the first in the series, I'm actually going to start with a film I watched last night. I had such a visceral reaction to it that I couldn't not share.
If you want to spend an hour of your life pretty pissed off, this is a good watch for you. And if anyone is remotely interested in fashion, it comes as no surprise that many parts of the fashion world is frustrating at best and diseased at worse. This documentary falls more on the later.
The filmmakers follow two ladies throughout the movie - Nayda, a 13-year-old Siberian hopeful trying to make it big in Japan and Ashley, the 20-something American ex-model who now scouts for Japanese model agencies. I won't give away too much more about the "plot" of the film but I will say these three things:
1. One thing I've understood about the art of filming documentaries is that the camera man should never get involved in any of the action with his subjects. But you can tell that the camera man genuinely felt bad for Nayda and helped her where he could. She was a child thrown into Japan with no real resources, assistance or even basic language skills in English or Japanese.
2. Which leads me to my next point. I remember so vividly the first time I arrived in Korea. I got off the wrong bus stop and with all my luggage I stood under the crowded awning, dodging raindrops and waiting for my school to come pick me up… and waiting… and waiting… finally some kind Korean people helped me call my school and we realized I was in the wrong place. They picked me up 10 minutes later with no harm or foul. I remember the anxiety I felt at being in a new place not having ANY idea of where I was or how to communicate to help myself. But here's the thing: I WAS AN ADULT. I have more abilities and experiences in dealing with these situations than an 8th grader. No one picked her up at the airport and certainly no one helped navigate this young "country mouse" (as she described herself) through the difficult business of modeling.
3. I think one of the most creepiest aspects of the movie was the model scout, Ashley. She seemed so emotionally detached from the whole experience even as she was talking about the width of the girls' hips, her own experiences modeling in Japan, and how the owner of the model agency likes young girls. When she talked about how "she brought the girls" you knew she was technically talking about models. But I couldn't help but make the jump that when she said sentences like that, it could sound much more sinister than only modeling. Even when she talked about how other "scouts" find girls to be involved with more illicit activities, she ended up always lamely finishing statements with "I don't know… I just don't know…"
While this wasn't the most fun fashion film, it definitely was eye-opening. The fashion world being considered "agist" isn't a new thing but watching a first hand account of just some of the affects on these girls is certainly unsettling and reminds me that as consumers and participants, we need to continue to ask critical questions about the entire process.
Please leave any comments below about what you think, if you've watched the movie, what you think about the new Belted Pear series or if you want me to review anything in particular. Thanks for reading!