From the outside, Philly based Korean American adoptee and fitness model Kevin Tae-jin Kreider seems to have it all, Looks, Muscles, Chutzpah, Confidence and Charisma. He has a popular ...
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From the outside, Philly based Korean American adoptee and fitness model Kevin Tae-jin Kreider seems to have it all, Looks, Muscles, Chutzpah, Confidence and Charisma. He has a popular Instagram and vlog and has modeled around the world for the likes of Men's Health, Gillette and Abercrombie and Fitch. Yet since childhood, he has always felt ugly and second best as an Asian male in America. THE UGLY MODEL examines the paradox of a handsome male model who feels ashamed, ugly and emasculated because of his Asian ethnicity in America. Why does Kevin still choose to be a male model where validation is based on physical appearance and his ethnicity defines his marketability? Is he a masochist for beating his head against the glass ceiling or is Beauty truly in the eye of the Beholder?
Surprisingly powerful film about the struggles of an Asian-American male model.
I saw this thoughtful and heartfelt documentary thanks to the kind invitation of producer Bianca Kuijper. That someone originally from Holland should come to NYC to encourage me to enjoy a filmfest in my own backyard is very cool and I went into the showing expecting a light, Sunday entertainment. To tell the truth, the topic seemed far removed from my daily interests. I thought his that his story would be too particular, too immersed in the "world of male modeling" to be of any deep interest to me. What could I hope to learn from the struggles of handsome Asian male model Kevin Kreider? And, in fact, there are moments where he's revealed to be capable of some really bad behavior more befitting a brat than a grown man. Certainly these are beautiful and revealing moments from a documentary standpoint, but a little uncomfortable to witness.
I was wrong. This film deftly and unflinchingly shapes the narrative so that by the time the final, powerful shot appears onscreen, we understand some of the forces that have shaped Kevin into the person he is now: toxic masculinity, being an orphan, being a Korean kid in a white culture, being loved but never given the opportunity to regain his birth culture, and, of course, racism. I teared up a couple of times, partly in sympathy to Kevin's struggles, partly for everyone else - including myself - who's ever been in the same situations as a non-white American.
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