Tomorrow night sees part three, the final part of BBC Three’s Reggie Yates’ Extreme Russia and they kindly asked if I wanted to watch it before anyone else to share my thoughts with you guys!
As you’ll have seen in episodes 1 and 2, Reggie covers the topics that are slowly but surely tearing Russia apart, from the Far Right Movement to homophobia - it’s such a powerful series that really makes you question a lot but also it shows you how lucky we are to live in such a free environment and be ourselves without fearing for our lives.
Episode three documents the struggles of teen models in Russia including the desire to make it big offset against the rather dark side of the industry. Here in the UK a law was passed meaning models under the age of 16 were banned from walking on runways of events such as London Fashion Week. The programme shows various casting calls attended by some really young girls, it’s shocking to see that their parents are happy for them to attend these castings at the ages of 13 and 14 wearing just their underwear and heels - you can really see how uncomfortable Reg feels being in the same room and you absolutely can’t blame him.
He got speaking to some of the modelling agency reps including the ones that work around Asia to find out what exactly they look for at the castings. The reps for Asia surprisingly say that the younger the better, there’s something really creepy and unsettling at the thought they go there looking for the youngest possible girls they can because that is what their market likes, that doesn't sit right with me at all.
The girls are desperate to get out of Siberia and make it in the West, however it comes at a price. Reggie finds out that whilst hundreds of girls attend the castings, only a really small amount make it in the modelling industry and the seedy side comes out when it is revealed that some agencies even try to push the girls towards becoming escorts because they can make even more money from it. Parents start their girls in the modelling industry so young, with some girls attending modelling schools as soon as they can walk, the schools charge through the nose and teach the girls to walk, pose and apply makeup - it really is a disturbing side of the fashion industry in Russia.
The title of the episode ‘Teen Model Factory’ sums it up extremely well - it’s an industry that takes them in, chews them up and spits them out, really and truly, it needs to stop.
Join me for my watch along live on Twitter tomorrow night at 9pm - use #ReggieYatesExtremeRussia so we can chat and get your opinions whilst it is on!