Friday, April 17, 2015

Size matters!

Ahhh, home.  As great as vacation is, it’s hard to top that just-pulled-into-the-driveway feeling.  Well, until you actually stop the car and have to pull out the suitcases.  This was a three-generation trip for us; we traveled to Florida with my wife’s father and brother to visit my wife’s aunt and cousin.  My 87-year-old father-in-law was adamant that he would not make the trip, but my wife bombarded him with daughter-guilt at the very last minute and we actually got him to go visit his sister with us.  It was a great time, but also long enough with that many people traveling together and staying with family – we kept within everyone’s range of ability and stayed just long enough not – I hope – to be a total imposition.  My wife and I did have an epiphany, yesterday, while standing in the lazy low-tide waves of the Atlantic Ocean.  We are Vero people and we want the Vero life.  Never mind that there are at least 25 years until any hope of retirement…we are Vero people, damnit, and we will live life as such.

Anyway, we’ll live the Vero dream but we’ll just have to do it back in the Northeast.  Tomorrow that will involve getting the dog back from the kennel (missed her, but I am enjoying the fact that I left food on the counter and don’t have to worry about it) and getting my daughter into the city for a casting.  My daughter has had a VERY slow spring for modeling.  A lot of work depends on sample sizes: companies typically have their product ready in certain sizes for the photo shoots, most of which are 4-6 months before the product gets released.  April is a HUGE month for back-to-school shoots, with campaigns that usually appear in July.  Anyway, for a long time my daughter was a sample 3T and she did pretty well.  She managed to work that 3T for a long time.  This year, she is 43”, which is a solid 4, and pretty dead.  Couple that with being away for a week and we didn’t get sent out much in April.  She did go out for a Fashion Institute of Technology runway show casting (for the students’ senior projects) and they wanted to use her but we couldn’t make the fitting today – even though all parties involved knew she probably would not be able to make it, we still went to the casting.  Sometimes they can rearrange a fitting, so it was worth a try, but it didn’t work out this time.

So this is where a lot of parents tend to get nervous.  We all know the castings all the other kids get sent, so what about our kids who aren’t getting requests?  Tough one.  Size is the #1 factor.  Period.  One of my friend’s daughters (shout out!!!) is 54” and has had an AMAZING booking history.  Her agent told her that she’s got about 4 more inches and she’s done with child modeling – which is a bummer, because she’s only 8.  (My daughter will probably be 54” in about 10 years, at the rate she’s going!).  Now, where you tend to get some variation in theories of child modeling is how much size matters.  Some parents and agents will assert that kids get “pushed” up or down sizes.  One theory is that a client will make the clothes fit any kid they really like.  The opposite theory, I suppose, is that size guidelines are very strict and not to be messed with.  Agents, by virtue of their experience, know which clients tend to work on a stricter or more flexible basis.  If you see the same kids booking the same companies season after season for years, something is going on with sizes…they are not necessarily fitting those exact sample windows.  Why does that happen?  Maybe the kids have a certain look…maybe they are great to work with and the company loves that level of consistency.  Maybe samples shift in sizing.  Maybe a butterfly flapped its wings in a rainforest in Colombia…you never know.

Parents who are new to the industry can freak out when they hit a slow patch…and it’s usually just a size thing.  Ride it out for a bit and see what happens.  The hard part is when you start second guessing everything that other kids book…and sizing up your own kid.  Honestly, I’m not freaking out much about this slow patch because I know that other girls in my daughter’s breakdown (size and “look”) are having a pretty slow season as well.  I hear parents talking (ok, by saying “parents” here I include myself) about whether or not their agents are “pushing” the kids…and some parents do get a little restless and look around at other opportunities to see if something is missing.  This feeling is normal.  For model moms, this is like wondering why your kid isn’t pooping/walking/crawling/talking/multiplying like other similar kids.  Isn’t it funny how we do that?  I think that was one of the single greatest slaps across my face in parenting: how much we compare our kids to others.  Modeling is no different.

But you know what?  It’s not just modeling.  If your kid is athletic, you’re wondering how your kid stacks up against the others.  Who gets more playing time…is the coach “pushing” my kid to get more time or just playing the same old top scorers?  Is my kid getting the solos he/she deserves at dance and music?  I’m a high school teacher, and I can say without ANY reservation that parents don’t stop – they compare their kids’ scores on everything.  Why did THAT kid get into Stanford when MY kid had higher SAT scores?!?!?  Modeling is no different from any other activity in that way.  Size matters.  Looks matter.  Personality matters.  Want to book?  Have the exact combination the casting director and client want that day at that minute.  Talk to any admissions officer at a top college and you’ll likely get a similar algorithm.  (Incidentally, I totally grilled my daughter’s kindergarten teacher about where she stacked up in reading skills in relation to the rest of her class.  Let’s just say kindergarten isn’t what it used to be back when my boys were that age.  She’s already written the proposal for her doctoral dissertation and it’s only April.)

I’m not sure I shed much light on anything here, but things have been slow for us and I wanted to share that element of the business as well as the high points.  I’ll let you know how things go tomorrow.  If you see me tomorrow, say hi!  It’s supposed to be a gorgeous day in the city.  Not Vero Beach gorgeous, but hey…I’m living the Vero life.  Tomorrow it will be in NYC.

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  1. What heights typically work for a size 5T in the child modeling industry?

  2. I think the next window starts to pick up somewhere between 44" and 46" -- not sure about the end of the size, but the stuff I've seen in the past month or so seems to start somewhere in that range for size 5.