A distressing tale of a young life and long hair being taken too soon
In the middle of a sweltering June day 2008, the supermodel, Ruslana Korshunova, otherwise known as the Russian rapunzel, fell 9 stories down and 9 meters away from her water street apartment. Among many curious inconsistencies with this suicide was the very seldom spoken about haircut she received shortly before jumping out of her apartment window.
She had returned from a movie date with her ex boyfriend around 4am at which point Ruslana’s long hair was still very much in tact. What happened in the ensuing 10 hours that caused her untimely death and the loss of her hair? There are many theories, but first let’s look over who Ruslana Korshunova was.
Ruslana Korshunova came from a small town in Kazakhstan. She lived a fairly normal middle class life and spoke English, Russian, and German. She was plucked from obscurity via an in flight magazine. At 17 years old, in 2004 she packed everything she owned and left for New York. She starred in a Nina Ricci perfume ad, kind of a modern eve with ethereal long chestnut curls. She lived and thrived in New York until her untimely demise in 2008, at the age of 20, 4 days from her 21st birthday. This leads us to our next question, why. And if she was killed, who would do this and why?
The first theory, and the official cause of her death is suicide. Did she cut off her long hair herself in a moment of heightened emotion? Did this upset her so much it was worth killing herself over? She did work in an industry obsessed with commodifying her. No one really knew who she was. She at one point joined a cult called, “Rose of the world” a brutal, secretive society who blamed victims for crimes against them. Many people in this group were cold and unfeeling toward her death and blamed it on her superficial profession. How is hair superficial? One might ask. Unfortunately this is the unintended consequence of an increasingly liberal world which does not value hair.
A less explored theory was hair traffickers or hair fetishists. Possibly they fell in love with her hair and the desire got too strong to hold back anymore. This is why we need to make the love of long hair acceptable again. Perhaps there were some hit men within her friend group, who stuck around only to have her vulnerable enough to let go of her hair. Perhaps they staked out her apartment, waiting for her to get home from a boozy night so they could throw her off guard. Perhaps she denied their request for her long hair and they threw her out the window after chopping off her hair in anger.
The last and most commonly accepted theory outside of her unlikely suicide is an all too tragic and familiar tale. That being, “model scouting” for young, beautiful women. Unfortunately as innocuous as model scouting sounds it has a notorious undertone of sex trafficking. When these women realize what is happening they may already be stuck in an unfamiliar city where they may not know the language. Many are in a lease on a model apartment sometimes with little work to help cover the rent. The model scouts will then network the models with high profile clients and send them off to parties, vacations, and dinners to cover their dues. All of which often lead to coercive sex or all out rape. These women are lured away from their homes with the promise of success and fame in the big city. Of course this would appeal to many women, but especially those from third world countries who are given an opportunity to come to one of the alluring fashion capitals, New York, Paris, London, or Los Angeles.
One very famous example is Peter Listerman, a Ukrainian-born “matchmaker” and model scout. He allegedly procured many of the young women from the former Soviet Union that Jeffrey Epstein began forcing into his world of depravity. It is well know that Mr. Epstein would also have his “girlfriend”, Ghislaine Maxwell, lure young women in with promises of modeling contracts only to in turn be molested or raped by Mr. Epstein. Certainly if Ruslana Korshunova were trafficked by men such as these it would be in their best interest to keep her quiet, especially if she were close to divulging information on her handlers (which according to some sources she was getting ready to do after her 21st birthday, which was a mere 4 days away.) This would also prove a motivation for a suicide, and a highly unusual one at that. If she did commit suicide she would have had to run full speed for many meters to be able to land that far from her building.
The question of why her hair was cut is of course lost in the many other questions we have about Ruslana Korshunova and her untimely demise. No matter the reason, we must protect long hair at all costs.