Teenage star of underage modelling expos left 'humiliated' over documentary's portrayal of her as a victim
22:50 GMT, 22 March 2012
A teenage model who was followed by a film crew for a documentary about underage girls in the business has expressed her anger about the way she was portrayed.
Nadya Vall, whose journey as a 13-year-old from rural Siberia to Tokyo was chronicled in Girl Model, is 'humiliated' by the film and does not agree with the way the modelling industry has been portrayed in the film.
Nadya, now 17, told Fashionista: 'I have not seen the movie, but I read the comments and a description
for this film, recordings, and was unpleasantly shocked!'
Unpleasantly shocked: Nadya Vall is angry she was portrayed as a victim in New Girl, a documentary revealing the darker side of underage modelling
She continued: 'I
kept on getting letters from unknown people from different countries.
They were offering me help considering me a victim.
'These horrible people… did such a junk out of a real story.'
Her Russian agency, NOAH, added: 'Nadya and her parents are humiliated with this as well as our whole
The team behind the documentary, however, deny this claim, adamant there was no trickery involved when filming.
Girl Model filmmaker, David Redmon said: 'The problem is when 12-15 year old girls are placed inside a marketplace of adults that sexualizes them and treats them as disposable goods, there’s an infinite potential for the situation to go awry.'
Those involved in the modelling industry also agree that the documentary was an accurate representation of the problems which widely hinder the ability for models to have a fulfilling career like any other.
Jenna Sauers, a former model, fashion writer for Jezebel and member of The Model Alliance, told MailOnline she believes Girl Model accurately spotlights important issues in the industry.
She explained: '[It is] namely
the extreme youth of many of the girls when they begin their careers,
and the financial asymmetries between the models and the powerful
brands, agencies, and magazines they end up working for.
'All of the things
depicted in the film — contracts that aren't honored, agency debt, and
the pressure to drop out of school — are things that do happen to
models, including very young models, in the industry today,' she continued.
Too much: Nadya Vall is left unsupervised in Tokyo to peruse a modelling career and finds the issues she is faced with deeply troubling as a 13-year-old
of models start their careers before the age of 16, and unlike child
actors,they enter into an industry that is almost totally unregulated,
and which lacks even basic labor protections.'
Nadya's surprising response to the film highlights these problems facing non-profit organisations such as The Model Alliance and the CFDA which aim to create better working conditions for young models who, as freelancers, are exempt from federal child labor laws.
When you have a young girl such as Nadya whose background and economic situation define her, regardless of the industry's corrosive influence or problematic working conditions, she is tempted to still view the prospect of being a model as an opportunity to escape and work overseas. And therein lies the problem.
'Fashion overwhelmingly favors malleable, adolescent girls – not women with the life experience and strength to demand fair treatment'
The documentary premiere at SXSW last
week follows recent controversy surrounding Marc Jacobs's most recent
show, which saw him use 14-year-old models on the catwalk.
His decision defied industry guidelines from the CFDA which forbid the use of models under the age of 16.
Sara Ziff, a model and founder of The
Model Alliance, told MailOnline that 'Girl Model does not present the
modeling industry in a glamorous light. It highlights an unregulated
industry that relies on a labor force of children — children who often
work unchaperoned far away from home.'
The documentary shows how many of these young girls are from rural, poor backgrounds, and Nadyal's optimism about rescuing her family from financial hardship
through modelling is a common theme among young girls who cling to the promise of a profitable career.
However their dreams usually contrast with the industry's lack of supervision and trusted
guidance from the agents that are supposed to look out for them,
instead fostering a competitive climate where models feel reluctant and
anxious to talk about their experiences with one another, or the press,
for fear of losing clients and jobs.
Model rights: Sara Ziff and Jenna Sauers aim to give models in the U.S. a voice through The Model Alliance
They find themselves in a situation
with no plausible way to improve their working environment, other than
to defend the industry that, more often than not, takes full advantage of them.
Miss Ziff explained: 'Fashion overwhelmingly favors malleable, adolescent girls – not women with the life experience and strength to demand fair treatment.'
Nadya is still working as a model and her agency is furious with the way she’s been portrayed in the film.
In the documentary, Nadya is plucked from her home in Russia and sent unsupervised to the bustling Tokyo for her first job as a model, where, as a 13-year-old, she is left to grapple with the language barrier alone, told to lie about her age on a shoot, and is seen crying for her mother.
Miss Ziff said there was nothing about Girl Model that surprised her and that it brought back a lot of memories.
'I worked under contract in Japan when I was 21 and it was the loneliest time of my otherwise fairly bright and successful modeling career,' she revealed.
'For weeks I worked long hours without rest or meal breaks and ended up in hospital after passing out at a shoot, exhausted and malnourished.
'To top it off, the Japanese client told me that I had ruined the shoot and demanded that I pay the production costs – while I was incapacitated in the hospital.'
Dealing with the issues that continue to surround the modelling industry at such a young age can have devastating consequences for vulnerable young girls who have yet to mature.
Miss Ziff hopes Girl Model reaches a wide audience to help convince the industry, as well as the often skeptic public, of the need for fair labor standards in the modeling business.
'Designers, agents and casting directors need to see this film.'