Response to Op-Vid ‘Scouted’

Before watching “Scouted” I had not given much thought to what occurred behind the scenes in the world of modeling. I like fashion, and participate in this industry in the sense that I go shopping, try my best to be trendy, read magazines and watch the Victoria Secret show once a year.  Truthfully though, I never really think about the girls I see in the pictures and on the runway. I imagine that they had to start somewhere, and in hindsight, I recognized the global and competitive nature of the modeling industry where the chance of actually making it big is slim. However, I had no idea that these girls start working at such a young age and that in many cases, the motivation for modeling is based on the notion of escape and not passion.  Like Masha, each girl featured in “Scouted” wants to leave her country in search of a better life. But there is clearly a price to pay, and I got the sense that these girls were trading youth and innocence for something much darker.

“Scouted” was conceived by Ashley Arbaugh, a model scout who openly admits her motivation is working and making money. I commend Ashley for making this video to shed light on the truth behind the models we see in print advertisements and on television, and also for admitting to her participation in the process. She is honest in all senses of the term.

Ashley’s approach caused me to consider the truth behind other industries and how we would be impacted if all people were this honest. For example, I watched a video last year in Anthropology regarding the production of mardi gras beads in China. The documentary depicted Chinese children and women working long hours in dangerous and unhealthy environments to produce beads we wear for a day and then toss in the garbage. The American who owns the company tried to justify his outsourcing and treatment of these workers. It was evident that he was lying to himself, as does anyone who looks at a label that says “Made in China” and pretends to be oblivious to the inhumane conditions that lower class Chinese people must endure to make a living.  We all know, but we buy these products anyway.  I do not exclude myself from this group of people. I admit that sometimes even when I know the truth, I lie to myself to make myself feel better or to manipulate a situation because it is an easier path.

If I must be candid, and following Ashley’s example I feel I do, I will likely watch the Victoria Secret show in December despite the fact that I now know the truth about the lives of the models I will see on stage.  But this is not to say that the Op-Doc did not make an impact on me. The video caused me to reflect and wonder if the world could even function if people did not hide the truth to some degree.  If we did not lie to others or ourselves sometimes would the economy change? Would politics exist? Will we ever know?

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