Picture Me: A Model’s Diary

11 Mar

By Jess Lomas

In a society where fashion reins supreme, where models earn the big bucks for wearing the small sizes, and where negative body image is an issue that will seemingly never be resolved, the prospect of an insiders look at the world of modelling is enticing.

Former teen model Sarah Ziff sets out with her boyfriend, a documentary film maker, to take us into the unseen world of modelling; the gruelling schedules, sexual advances, bitchiness, constant pressure on body size and clear skin. What her boyfriend doesn’t film Sarah herself captures on a pint-sized camera that she takes with her on the road and backstage at some of the biggest fashion shows on the global tour.

Using a combination of diary style entries, as well as interviews with other models – Sarah’s friends, and catwalk footage – Picture Me at first appears to be an engaging expose of the truth behind the glamour. Where the documentary falters, and begins to lose its audience, is when it fails to deliver its promise – we don’t see a side of modelling we haven’t seen before, and this “inner world of modelling” the film promotes isn’t anything you can’t see in many films that have come before it.

If the fashion world intrigues you, Picture Me is worth your time. The backstage footage alone will make many an enthusiast long for the opportunity to rub shoulders with such illustrious designers and such stunning beauties. If, however, you’re wanting to see an in-depth exploration of the lifestyle and moral and emotional costs of being a high fashion model, avoid disappointment and avoid this film.

The issue of the age a female model should begin is handled quite masterfully as the “older” models (being in their early twenties) discuss the impact on their careers as twelve-year-old girls snap at their heels.

While sexual advances and favours are discussed in the film, and one model even manages to muster a few tears, the intimate filmmaking style doesn’t allow for such a serious, and interesting, topic to be further investigated. So too is the case for the overall affect modelling has on these women, we are instead given a message that the money is great but the work is hard and ultimately once you hit a certain age you’re yesterday’s news.

Picture Me: A Model’s Diary is playing at The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (acmi) on Sunday 13 March 5.30pm and Tuesday 15 March 2.30pm.


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