Popular DJ and television presenter Reggie Yates most recent documentary ‘Extreme Russia: Teen Model Factory’ was recently broadcast on BBC3, with an outcome of mixed reviews. The programme focused on international model scouts looking to recruit new models in the areas capital Novosibirsk. The first thing we learn is that younger models are favoured, and that girls as young as 13 are auditioning to get selected by various modelling agencies. One girl didn’t make the cut due to her hips being 1cm too wide, and she was also forced to wear heels even though she had a back problem. Many people found this disturbing and somewhat demoralising for the women. It shows the different extremes between cultures, and that these women will do anything they can to try and get a job in the model industry. At one point Reggie says “The lines of right and wrong are just so blurred”, which is exactly what the documentary proves.
Children begin learning to model between the ages of 4 and 5, and learn to walk, pose and apply makeup in specially designed classes. The class he enters are children aged between 6 and 12, and you can instantly see how experienced and knowledgeable they are about modelling. He also speaks to a model who began when she was 14, and she discusses how many models travel abroad but due to lack of money have to turn to prostitution. The extreme lengths these young people have to go to just to find a job to provide for their families is pretty remarkable.
There were mixed reviews on the programme, many finding it disturbing and uncomfortable to watch. Having girls as young as 13 standing in their underwear in front of men doesn’t sound quite right. Overall the documentary gave a fascinating in depth look into the lives of those struggling to make it in an industry where there seems to be no boundaries, and the women will do anything they can to make it in this world.
The full documentary can be found at : http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05sj8zx
BBC, (2015). Teen Model Factory, Reggie Yates’ Extreme Russia – BBC Three. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05sj8zx [Accessed 29 Apr. 2015].