I arrived at the airport. No one was there to pick me up. A Japanese man saw me crying. He asked me, “Do you have anybody around you?” Hell, I didn’t have anyone with me. I asked him where I should go and he told me. I bought a ticket and got to Tokyo Station. I was in this huge subway system wandering around an hour and half. I couldn’t find an exit. I didn’t know what to do and nobody met me. There was no phone and I did not know what to do and I was lost for four hours.
They say that in America and Europe they don’t use girls under 16. But I see these girls at castings, I talk to them.
The average fashion model starts working between the ages of 13 and 16. They are often underpaid, paid late, or not paid at all. Many of them have no adult chaperones on set and don’t speak the language. They have almost no legal recourse when it comes to labor violations. Learn more.
But on a more practical level, who is going to be the person who’s not going to ask any questions? Or is unable to ask any questions because they don’t speak the language? So you start looking at it that way thinking, “Well why are they choosing young girls?” Well, they can control them better and they ask less questions so there’s less resistance. That’s the only reason from my perspective why they would choose young girls.
Girl Model tells the story of Nadya, a 13 year old from Siberia who is scouted as a model and sent to Japan to work. She does not speak the language, has no chaperone, and is largely left to fend for herself. Her experience is not uncommon and raises vital questions about the labor rights of models around the world, including in the United States. Girl Model premieres 3/24 on PBS.