Siberian Supermodels The supermodels who grace the pages of glossy magazines and couture runways at London, Paris, New York and Milan fashionweeks are arguably the most photographed women in the world. The most seen, the most recognisable, the most familiar women represented through still imagery. Yet we seldom know anything of the everyday lives behind the faces that pout and pose at us from glamorous magazine and billboard advertisements. Who are the real people behind the sculpted, styled, perfected, objectified, idolised depiction of womenkind? Where do they come from and what drives them to leave their families and their homes? These questions led me to Siberia, one of the most remote corners of the earth, to discover the model agencies that cultivate these supermodels. Some of the most beautiful women in the world come from Siberia, and international model scouts scour the lengths of the trans-Siberian railway every year searching for the next new face and multi-million dollar brand. The Russian look…. oversized Bambi eyes, small rose-bud lips and china-doll like high cheek bones. Strict international parameters are adhered to for age, weight, height and bust, waist and hip measurements. Travelling with Noah Models International as they held castings in major cities along the railway, I met some of the children who are aspiring to travel the world as models. Ordinary girls, each with their own personal struggles, hopes and dreams. Castings were usually held in drab community halls or gyms and girls would turn up in their dozens, bikini clad or in their underwear, high heels at the ready. Identified by numbers pinned to their bikinis and with their vital statistics (name, age, height and measurements) written on prison-style boards, each young woman would walk, talk and pose for a panel of scouts. Those identified as having potential were then photographed and videoed: the files to be sent to model agencies all over the world. Travel motivates many young girls, who long to see the world outside of vast Siberia. But for each girl who succeeds, there are hundreds more dreaming of the chance to work abroad and live their own Cinderella story. Modelling agencies across Siberia run schools for girls from the age of five. Here they learn how to walk, pose, diet, and apply make-up. In these dimly lit modelling schools, packed casting halls or fashionshows in local nightclubs I often felt a deep sense of sadness and melancholy. Hopes raised and dashed in the time it takes to walk the length of a room and an intensified awareness of body and self, that can only be damaging in the longterm. But I also understood the girls desire and drive to make their way in the world - in any way they can. A universal will that young women have, to experience life as deeply, and live it as fully, as they can.