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Should You Let Your Baby Model?

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Guest blogger Jessica Katz: Babies are cute. Really cute. You can't help but want to take a million pictures of your little baby. Eventually, you start thinking, "My baby is cuter than that kid on the Pampers box." You start thinking about how easy it would be to launch your baby's international modeling career, and all the money you could put away for his or her college education ....

It seems really harmless, doesn't it? A few pictures in cute outfits, a few auditions, and most likely they won't even remember they ever modeled until you show them clippings from a catalog. But it might not be that way at all. In fact, it might even hurt your kid in the long run.

"Gossip Girl" star Taylor Momsen blames her parents for robbing her of a healthy childhood, insisting that they are the reason she's so dark and miserable nowadays. The actress and Pretty Reckless singer was quoted as saying, "Everyone's like, 'Wow, why is she upset? Why is she miserable?' My parents signed me up with Ford [Models] at the age of two. No two-year-old wants to be working, but I had no choice. My whole life, I was in and out of school. I didn't have any real friends. I was working constantly and I didn't have a real life." 

Then again, she did end up on "Gossip Girl," which may have never happened had she not had a push from her parents. And where would she be today without that? I have to admit that I have heard, several times, that my daughter should model. She has the biggest blue eyes and loves the camera. And with the prices of college always in the back of my mind, it has been tempting. So I asked a friend who got her son into modeling what she thought.

"He loves the camera, he is a ham and he can make a lot of money," she said. "He made $850 on his first job [a Kmart Easter ad] for two hours' work. We have only booked a couple of jobs and we have gone on a lot of auditions. The money goes straight into a trust for him. and I can't touch it." 

She spends a lot of her time driving him from audition to audition, making sure he is in a really good mood, that his hair is cut (for $30 a pop) and that he is totally put together. It is sort of exhausting just watching her. Then again, he could be the next Jake Gyllenhaal ....

However, kids are only kids for a short while. They have the rest of their lives to work. These are supposed to be the most carefree days of their lives. It is not supposed to be a stressful time. And kids should never feel like workhorses. 

There's no shortage of stories about child stars gone wrong (Lindsay Lohan), and very few about those who went right. If modeling can be a part-time situation and it isn't stressful for the parents or the child, then there is no harm in earning some extra money. After all, someone has to be on the Pampers box. Just make sure you can be a good mom even when you're a stage mom.

next: Surviving College Application Season
5 comments so far | Post a comment now
Cristin November 27, 2010, 9:52 AM

First, I highly doubt your friend’s son made $850 for a K-Mart Ad. For print modeling, kids make around $50-$100/hr. My daughter was in the 2006 Spring catalog for Babies R Us. She was 17 months old and we were there less than an hour. They really only had about 15 pictures of her. There was also another girl with the same outfit on, and I didn’t find out if my daughter was in the ad until it came out. She got $100 for the shoot, minus 20% for the modeling agency.

1. You should never join any agency that makes you pay up front. 20% of a job is standard for a reputable agency.

2. With babies/toddlers, you need to update their pictures often. You don’t need a huge portfolio or professional pictures (unless you’re a really bad photographer). A head shot with your name/number, child’s name, birthday, measurements, and abilities (walker, jumps, crawler, etc.) attached is all that’s really needed. Once they’ve had work, then you can put together that part of their resume.

3. There’s plenty of work from newborn to 2 years. Between 2-4, it’s hard to find much.

4. You start off by going to casting calls. A casting call is no guarantee that you will have a job. Even if you get a call back, it can be last minute (ie. the day before you get a call that says, “Be here at this time.”). Some jobs have multiple casting calls.

5. Before considering having your child model, you should really think about the boundaries to set for yourself. If your daughter is gorgeous, but is horribly shy around new people it may not work out and you may put unnecessary pressure on your child that is unrealistic considering her personality. At 11 months, I entered my daughter in a baby pageant. She hated being changed over and over. I never did another pageant with her again. (She did win most photogenic, though.)

I’ve taken my now 6 year old daughter on several auditions when she was under 2. It was a fun thing for us to do, but it’s not something I’d force her into as she got older. I recently took her to an open casting call after asking her if it was something she was interested in doing. After realizing she would have to miss school, I decided against it. My priority is for my children to get a good education. If something comes along that doesn’t require my daughter to be consumed by work, I may be more open to exploring it. All in all, my daughter enjoys seeing herself in the magazine, and loves to hear the story of the day. But I won’t let her lose her childhood for something she doesn’t want to do. If an opportunity arises, I will ask my daughter if it’s something SHE wants to do before I force her to do it now that she’s old enough to have a say. It’s not an easy decision, but if you do choose to go for it. Good luck!

ss November 30, 2010, 11:44 AM

I’m so torn on this issue. People have been telling me for months to get my child to an agent but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I don’t want to push him in to a life he doesn’t want.

Everyone says to just do it when he’s little then take him out of it but I worry what effect it will have on him in the long run. I also wonder how the second child will feel if our first gets jobs and he doesn’t. I think by the time I make up my mind it will be too late and that may not be a bad thing.

Richie December 6, 2010, 4:05 AM

Here’s a great posting on this same topic over at Good Enough Mother…

Christina December 14, 2010, 5:42 PM

Really?? Let my child model/ act/ sing/ enter them into a pageant or whatever?? No, no, no!!

Yes, I think my baby is the cutest thing ever, and of course (add sarcasm) he could make me millions with his big, gummy grin. But why would I want to sacrifice my time (I’m a SAHM) with him, carting his tiny butt to casting calls, hair cuts, fittings, and photo shoots? Why make him earn his keep, when he is just a little kiddo.

I used to work as a makeup artist, and let me tell you. I REFUSE to be one of the mothers I had to put up with, because I didn’t put enough blush on Little Timmy or Sally’s cheeks. Or tell them their kid was going to be the next big thing.

Most people that make their child act/ model/ pageant whatever is exploiting their children and robbing them of their childhood. Little Timmy and Sally want to play with their friends, than with the toy you bribed them with because they smiled so pretty and were well behaved during their shoot and didn’t cry when they got tired and bored.

Ten Tees January 9, 2011, 8:46 AM

Nice site. Nice to read. I have one thing to make about t-shirts.

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