Elle Fanning stars as Jesse, an awkward and innocent 16-year-old who arrives from out of state and takes up residence at a fleabag motel in Pasadena, hoping to kick start a career as a model within a decadent version of Los Angeles as her beauty is the only marketable asset she has. During a promo shoot, she becomes friends with a make-up artist named Ruby, who introduces her to other models in the industry, though on the down side, where their age begins to show, and plastic surgery is employed to squeeze a few more years out before they're no longer wanted in front of the camera. Not much of a worry for Jesse, who is such a natural beauty and has a certain “thing” that those looking for models instantly see. As Jesse's star is on the rise, she becomes aware of the qualities she possesses in her beauty. Others see it too, especially her rivals, which brings forth a certain power to her position, as well as a certain danger.