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The Feministing Five: Ashley Sabin

What goes on behind the scenes in the world of modeling? What’s behind the facade of beautiful photographs and expensive clothes? Ashley Sabin, co-director of the documentary Girl Model, attempts to answer just that.

The documentary follows the story of a young girl named Nadya, scouted in her Siberian countryside and brought to the bustling world of Tokyo for modeling. The offer seems to provide much needed financial relief for her family who is depending on her.

The documentary provides varying perspectives, including the modeling scout, herself a former model, and the director of the modeling agency. While humanizing these roles in the global model trade, the documentary remains riveting and horrifying. It’s a strong dose of reality for anyone who thinks modeling is a “dream job.”

The documentary premiered on PBS in March and can be viewed anytime on Netflix.

And now, without further ado, the Feministing Five with Ashley Sabin.

Anna Sterling: What inspired you to tell the story of what goes on behind closed doors in this modeling world?

Ashley Sabin: Girl Model is the first project where the subject matter came to us. Ashley Arbaugh, the scout, approached us with an idea to document “modeling and prostitution or the foggy lines that exist between the two.” It took a while to begin the project because of the obvious ethical problems of filming such subject matter. After about a year we began production and decided we would follow Ashley on a scouting ...

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