“I just wonder, well, how different is what I’m doing from what a stripper does?” “Well-known photographer known for being sexual” “Treated like a robot and not a human being” Picture Me, opening Friday in select theaters, unmasks the industry of modeling to the raw truths of drugs, sexual advances and eating disorders.
Winner of Best Fashion Film Milan and winner of the Audience Award Milan at the International Film Festival, Picture Me features the modeling career of Sara Ziff, who began modeling at 14, as she portrays on film the excitement down to the emptiness that is modeling and fashion. Among successes such as an $80,000 check and a New York City Tommy Hilfiger billboard showcasing her face, Ziff reveals the darker side of the industry throughout five years of personal experience.
According to ABC News, viewers should expect to witness, “model friends talk about rampant cocaine use and already stick-thin girls who try to lose just another pound or two. One lithe woman tells the camera: ‘In castings, people have slapped my thigh, and I’m not in any sense overweight … but they’ll slap your butt and be like Oooh, fat in Italian or in French. It’s too big here.’ Another mentions a studio owner who complained his toilets were always clogged with vomit after he hosted a fashion show.”
“Some of them come from pretty humble backgrounds,” co-director Ole Schell, Sara’s boyfriend during filming, said in an interview with ABCNews.com. “Sometimes they’re supporting their whole families. They’re literally children — they don’t have enough life experience to know what the correct decisions are, and they’re being treated as a commodity by agents, by photographers. It’s hard to understand who’s using you and who’s a friend.”
Schell also brings to attention not only how aggressively the industry “preys” on young girls but also how modeling ages teens more than ten years internally and externally. The documentary is an exposed look at child labor, sexual assault, eating disorders, drug use, and robbed teenagehood.
“As for how it’s affected my career, I think that’s yet to be seen,” Ziff told ABCNews.com. “I made the film knowing that it would ruffle some feathers and that I might not work again in high fashion. But I guess that’s okay so long as this film can generate a meaningful dialogue and hopefully affect some change within the industry.”