Documentaries with a point of view

In Context

Girl Model explores the supply chain providing Siberian models to the Japanese fashion market. The global industry has long practiced self-regulation, so there is little official information on standards and practices for either region, and only recently has the U.S. fashion industry become proactive in finding ways to benchmark itself.

  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the median pay for models in 2010 was $15.83 per hour or $32,929 per year. Average earnings are difficult to predict, however—salary ranges can vary widely within a single modeling agency, where there may be one model making $100,000 a year and another who is $20,000 in debt to the agency.
  • In the 2012-2013 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that the employment of models will grow by 14 percent from 2010 to 2020.
  • Modeling agents and managers typically receive a 10 to 20 percent commission on each model’s earnings.
  • Sociologist and former model Ashley Mears writes in her 2011 book Pricing Beauty: The Making of a Fashion Model that a day-long fashion shoot for the magazine Vogue pays a model $150.
  • According to The New York Times, a fashion model typically has a career that lasts for three seasons.
  • The New York City Economic Development Corporation reported that in 2011 the city’s fashion industry employed 165,000 people and generated $9 billion in wages, $1.7 billion in tax revenue and $55 billion in sales.

Caption: Model casting in Siberia.
Credit: A. Sabin

» Aleksander, Irina. “Expanding her efforts to be a role model.” The New York Times, August 31, 2012.
» Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Outlook Handbook.”
» Krupnick, Ellie. CFDA Health Guidelines for Models Released, Focus on Age & Eating Disorders.” Huffington Post, January 27, 2012.
» Mears, Ashley. Pricing Beauty: The Making of a Fashion Model. University of California Press, 2011.
» The Model Alliance. “Child Models.”
» New York City Economic Development Corporation. “Fashion.”
» Nikas, Joanna. Documentary Is Another Voice in the Underage Model Conversation.” The New York Times, April 9, 2012.
» Schama, Chloe. “The Skin Trade.” New Republic, September 19, 2011.
» Springer, Sarah. Can There Ever Again Be an All-American Beauty?” CNN, April 6, 2012.
» Wilson, Eric. “Checking Models’ IDs at the Door.” The New York Times, February 8, 2012.