March 01, 1998

Russian Women: An Awesome Force

This year, in honor of International Women’s Day, our lead takes a lighter angle than year’s past. There will be no talk of supersonic pilots, Heroines of Socialist Labor, human rights activists and duma deputies. For, like other women the world over, Russian women want to look beautiful. Russian Life Executive Editor Mikhail Ivanov attempted to find out how Russian women cope with this challenging task, while balancing between the old spiritual traditions of Mother Russia and the multiple temptations of modern times.

Russian emigré writer Vassily Aksyonov, who shuttles back and forth between Russia and America, recently commented that, in America, “beauty and sex appeal is strongly commercialized,” but that this is not the case in Russia. “Here, a pretty girl and a sexy person is already a profession,” he said in an interview with ON-ONA (he-she) magazine. “If she is good-looking, she doesn’t need to go to college, as she will be provided for anyway ... She just goes to work as a highly paid model and makes enough money for her whole life, then invests it in securities, in production. All beauties are taken into account by some agents, they are all hidden. In Russia, such girls are walking down the street, you meet them here and there, some sort of electric waves emanate from them which overwhelm you, and men feel like men in such an electric field ...”

Little does he know. The streets of Russia are haunted by an unbelievable number of pretty girls. And Russian beauty agencies are on the prowl. Girls respond accordingly, regarding their innate beauty as serious start-up capital for a top modeling career. From 1994 to 1996, models from Russia’s top modeling agency, Red Stars, were among the top three winners of the world’s most prestigious model contest, Elite Model Look (see photos, page 10) for three consecutive years.

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