A casual videoing of the famous super model’s day-to-day life by her ex-boyfriend Ole Schell, for a period of five years, led to the controversial documentary “picture me”. The movie shot by a simple handy-cam star some of the famous models and friends of Sara Ziff like; Tanya D, Olga and Sena Cech along with famed photographers and designers. Sara Ziff started modeling at the age of 14 earning a handsome income and travelling around the globe doing fashion shows and shoots in exotic locations. Although this seems like a fantasy job, the reality is grim as model veteran Ziff portrays- the ugly side about anorexia and drug abuse as just being a small tip of the iceberg.
The fact is that a models job is highly demanding and she is most likely to be sexually leered at or taken advantage of by photographers during shoots and criticized by agencies and designers during castings for runway shows. One model in the documentary recalls being slapped on her thigh in a casting and being told “Ooh too fat” in Italian or French. Girls at the tender age of 12 and 13 are told to ‘do sexy’ for runways and shoots and are constantly pressured to be thin and look perfect all times. (Remember the highly publicized size zero issue after Ali Michael spoke publicly about her weight issues ) Ziff also talks about a recent case of a 16 year old girl who was sexually assaulted by a well known photographer; these incidents heighten the issue of the unknown ill-treatment of young models. The industry’s unglamorous exploitive side is hardly known to many and TV shows like America’s next top model attract a large sum of young women into working in it and encourage young girls sitting in front of the TV screens to muse the image of a model.
However, it is a fact that the models are the one’s who exhibit the clothes created by the designers and since they are meant to be shown to the public they are expected to have gazelle-like features with long limbs and a lean body. I’m sure that no one would want to see a bunch of big overweight figures stomping down the runway – after all it is about the looks and a slim tall figure is always pleasant to look at plus shows the sleek creations better! Moreover professional casting agencies like Elite and Storm accept girls who are naturally thin , lean and most of all healthy; they do not force teenagers o starve to get the job. But then again, designers and agencies should remember that the models working for them are humans and that they should be a little more sensitive to them.
Sara Ziff and Ole Schell go on to say that their intention of making the documentary was hardly anything about revenge or retaliation to the industry but it was about telling the people what a model’s life is really like. That it is not exactly about glamour all the way. Ziff adds in a clip “as far as the modeling question I would say, think why you want to do it. It’s a lot more empowering to be behind the camera, than in front of it.”