Picture Me: The Darker Side Of Fashion

Wads of cash, public adoration, celebrity, free clothes and cellulite free bodies. The life of a model, on the surface at least, seems like a privileged one but as Picture Me the new documentary by filmmaker Ole Schell proves those benefits aren’t without cost.

From body image and sexual manipulation to loss of innocence and self worth Schell’s documentary explores the not so glamorous aspects of being a model. He does so by following model and ex-girlfriend Sara Ziff and documenting her rise from relative obscurity to being plastered across billboards and featured in magazines. The duo also capture the behind the scenes action of photo shoots, parties and runway shows across several years with appearances from fashion heavyweights including Irina Lazareanu, Karl Lagerfeld and more.

Perhaps the most saddening issue explored in Picture Me is the rampant sexualization of young models at the hands of older photographers (we’re talking as young as 13) and their struggle to negotiate an overtly sexual casting couch culture, when they themselves are far from adult. Ziff recently recounted those exact sentiments in an interview with The Guardian:

“We had to go in one by one. The photographer said he wanted to see me without my shirt on. Then he told me that it was still hard to imagine me for the story so could I take my trousers off. I was standing there in a pair of Mickey Mouse knickers and a sports bra. I didn’t even have breasts yet. ‘We might need to see you without your bra,’ he told me. It was like he was a shark circling me, walking around and around, looking me up and down without saying anything. I did what he told me to. I was just eager to be liked and get the job. I didn’t know any better.” Teenage girls, she says, are being persuaded to pose in a sexual way when they don’t even know what it means yet. She recalls being a “virginal teenager” and posing innocently when she didn’t feel remotely sexy. “The images came out and they were practically pornographic. What the photographer saw was not what I felt. It had nothing to do with that 14-year-old and what she was feeling and everything to do with what the person behind the camera projected onto her.”

To any budding teenage models we strongly suggest watching the below videos before you sign the dotted line…

The Picture Me trailer…