Having been raised by a protective family, I can say two things; 1) it was annoying, 2) it kept me safe. I am happy to say that I survived my childhood unscathed and have turned into a well-adjusted adult (at least I’d like to think so). Because of this, I am able to navigate through this tough industry without putting myself into situations that could put me at risk for being exploited, abducted, or physically and emotionally harmed.
But what if you are an adult who wants to get your daughter/son into this industry and have no experience of your own? Below is a list of things you should know and do to make sure your child has a healthy and happy career in modeling.
Do Your Research!
Don’t let your or your child’s excitement cloud your judgement. If your child is presented with an opportunity, find out every bit of information you can about the company or individual. Ask for contact information and website links. Use this information to do your own *Google search.
*Type the name of the person or company with the word, “scam” after it in Google search. If scams are associated, you will see them in the search results. Red flag!
Don’t ever, I mean EVER, go forward with a job that makes you feel uneasy.
Always Be There
Even if your child is a teenager who has been trained in staying safe, you should never, I mean NEVER, let him or her go to a casting or booking alone. Yes, this means that if you are both serious about a career in modeling, it will also become a full-time deal for you, too. There are so many young teens who get thrown into the industry and sent to travel abroad all by themselves. Unless you trust their manager/agent/guide with your life, I don’t recommend you just letting them take your child anywhere. There is just so much that goes on when kids are left with strangers. I shutter at the thought. Just don’t do it. If that means your child has to wait to begin a modeling career when s/he turns 18, so be it. You might have to deal with resentment for awhile but that’s much better than the precious fruits of your loins being put in a bad situation.
This is one of our models with her Mom’s hand in the shot as she tickled her to get her to smile. So cute!
The “taste makers,” aka agents & designers of the fashion world, will sometimes put your child in whatever clothes and settings you let them (although those with good consciences will be looking out for your child’s best interest and refrain from putting your kid in a questionable situations). This means your pure teenage daughter might end up strutting the runway in any sheer top, with nothing underneath (it’s happened), unless you put your foot down and let them know that is not ok with you. If it is ok with you, however, I’m not judging. Different families and cultures have different comfort levels with these types of things. Personally, however, I don’t think it is wise to have your child grow up faster than needed. Again, not judging at all but, rather, coming from a perspective of someone who has had a glimpse into the dark side of what goes on in the industry. Once your children have been exposed, there is no undoing the damage. In today’s world, once a photo or video is created it exists forever. You have to decide what you are comfortable with but, more importantly, what is best for your child’s emotional development and then let agencies, photographers, designers etc. know what you are and are not willing to have your child be a part of or wear. Be a defensive parent. Be professional and kind but don’t let anyone coerce you into having your child do something that might be beyond his or her emotional maturity.
As exciting as this time might be for your family, make sure that your child has some level or privacy outside of his/her job. I often see instagram accounts featuring young models run by their parents and can tell the difference between a responsible momager and an over-eager parent who wants as much exposure for her child as possible. Understand that when you put your child’s life out there for the world to see, ANYONE can access this information.
It goes without saying that you should be extremely cautious when posting photos. Make sure geo-tagging is off so people cannot find your location. This is a setting that is automatically turned on on certain social media apps like Instagram so please make sure to check all settings before using any app. In addition to this, be mindful of the types of photos you are posting. Remember that your kids often have little to no say over what you are doing and you don’t want them to grow up wishing the whole world didn’t know everything about their lives. I say the whole world because I’m putting out into the universe the success I want your child to have *wink*.
For teenagers, remember when you were their age and understand that they might want to post things that are inappropriate or not in their best interest. When it comes to personal photos, it might be best to leave those off of social media,entirely, and only post professional pictures and videos. If it is a fan base you are trying to cultivate, they don’t need to know all the inner-workings of your seven-year old’s life.
Keep A Routine
We all know how important it is for children to get their rest, proper nutrition, love, and guidance. Even if your family has decided that your kid or teenager can handle an unconventional childhood by entering the modeling world, these things are still very important. Especially in an industry in which looks are key and schedules are hectic, it is imperative that your child gets ample rest and eats the healthiest of foods. Make sure bedtimes are adhered to as much as possible, fruits and veggies are eaten in abundance, and there is time left in your schedules for learning as well as fun. This modeling world can be frenzied so it is important that you remain the rock that your children expect you to be and to help make the experience positive yet structured.
Keep a constant dialogue with your child. If at any time your child’s interest in modeling starts to wane, find out if this is really something that should continue being pursued. Ultimately, your child’s happiness is of the utmost importance. Children will often stick with things because it is the desire of their parents and they want to be “good”. Make sure you know the difference between your child’s wants and needs and your own. Pay close attention and make sure that your kid isn’t just doing this because she realizes it was your dream growing up and she doesn’t want to disappoint you.
As a young child I took ballet and went to class every weekend (that I recall) for a few years. One particular morning I remember telling my mom I didn’t want to go because I wanted to watch cartoons. I didn’t go to ballet again until I was an adult. The moral of the story, here, is that my Mom knew when not to push and you should, too. Let your kids find their own way and if it ends up being modeling then be their to support as best you can. If it ends up being something else then get ready to learn everything about that world and have fun with it.
Now go forth and be the best model parent ever!
Photo Credit: Lola O Photography