Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Makeup Test

I have referred to makeup a few times in previous posts – most specifically, I think, in the post about the connection (or lack thereof) between child modeling and pageants.  I’ve been thinking more about it lately and a mom friend (shout out!) gave me some ideas that I can address in a post.

A little back story on me.  I loooooove makeup.  LOVE!  You could lock me in a Sephora for about three days and I would be happy as a pig in poop.  (I really want to say the sh-word, but I’ll keep it PG.)  My mom was never uptight about when I could or couldn’t wear makeup and I always favored a very natural look, so I began playing around with it sometime in middle school.  (And my mom is a makeup whiz herself.)  Now let me put a little emphasis on playing with makeup.  I almost never actually wear makeup.  I own a full set – foundation, powder, mascara, etc…but I only wear it for special occasions.  I am a very low-maintenance “wash and go” kind of girl who gets up at 5:30 am and likes to be out of the house by about 6:20, so I just don’t make time for it.  Drying my hair is, like, a big beauty day for me.  And, I have an extremely un-glamorous profession, so I don’t really need to dress it up on a daily basis.  But I still love makeup!  I like to put it on for fun, try new products, in search of the Holy Grail item that will make me look ah-mazing.

When I started playing with my mom’s makeup and then fiddling around with my own, I knew exactly what I was doing: I was trying to look grown up.  Playing grown up is a childhood rite of passage – we play house so we can be the parents; store so we can be consumers; and doctor so we can…KIDDING!  Anyway, I associate makeup with looking grown-up and I get uncomfortable when I see little girls with a lot of makeup.  It’s obviously a bias that I have that some others do not – and my bias doesn’t necessarily apply to little girls playing dress up.  I get it; that’s fun.  A few months ago my daughter did a photo shoot in which she was fully made up; foundation, blush, eye makeup – and I was on the fence about how I felt.  It really was nothing was over-the-top; it was mostly a natural style, but it noticeable and was much more than she would normally wear at a typical photo shoot.  I think I mentioned before that paid photo shoots for most children in our market involve very little makeup.  The typical look can include a tiny bit of concealer (little kids often have thin skin and can look dark under the eyes), a tiny bit of blush just to give a rosy glow, and maybe a bit of lip gloss – not so much for shine but to eliminate dry lips.  Older kids may get a wisp of mascara, usually clear or in a color that matches their natural lashes – and usually only on the ends of the lashes so they are “visible.”  My daughter’s and my eyelashes are light blonde on the tips, so a tiny bit of mascara can actually make it look like we have lashes.

Once I saw the pictures from that made-up shoot, I realized it really wasn’t a look I preferred for my daughter.  My parents were really not happy with the pictures – they have a much more conservative stance on how children should appear in pictures, and I kind of thought – well, this is not really for us.  Contrast that with the shoot we did with Gina Kim a couple of weeks ago (see previous posts) in which my daughter wore NO makeup, and I have a definite preference for the natural face of my child.

But back to that list of the makeup that is more common for the shoots we usually do.  What about makeup cleanliness?  I believe that the sickest my daughter has ever gotten was within about a month or two after she began working regularly.  It was one of those stomach-fever-lethargy viruses that seemed to hang around for about a week.  I chalk that up to a shoot in which she was one of several little kids on set – germ city.  Was it the makeup – perhaps the lip gloss – that they used on her?  Maybe, but we all know little kids can catch a bug from any number of forms of contact.  (And if you are getting started in the biz and you’re worried about your young kiddo catching a bug from other little kids, it WILL happen and it’s just like any activity your kid would join.)  So I’m wondering if I should get our own little makeup bag of a few items to use when we’re on set – and just hand it to the makeup artist (that’s MUA in biz lingo) for our own personal use.  I mean, we don’t just put samples on our own faces willy-nilly at Sephora…you just cannot always guarantee the cleanliness.  Does anyone bring your own makeup to shoots?  I’m not super over-protective about stuff – I realize that germs happen, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense.  Because, as we all know…herpes (mouth or otherwise) is the gift that keeps on giving.  I’d also love to know exactly what to get for a little kit – any ideas?  Essential items?  Brands?  Let me know!

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Friday, May 15, 2015

It’s not about the money, money, money… (cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching)

I was looking back through some of my daughter’s tear-sheets that I’ve posted on Facebook, and I found a comment on one picture that suggested I should quit my job and live off of her salary.  Obviously it was a light-hearted remark made by a friend who was genuinely happy for my daughter’s accomplishments – and I took it as such, but commented back to make sure everyone realized that child modeling is NOT about the money.  REALLY, it’s not.

Many of us think that talking about money is tacky, and generally I agree, but I also work in a municipal job and my salary is public record.  Model moms talk about the “rates” of jobs all the time, but what does it all add up to?  I know that people outside of the biz who may want to consider getting their kids into modeling legitimately wonder what kids make…so here goes.

A basic booking for a typical job is $100-$125 an hour with a two-hour minimum (there are some exceptions…more on those later).  Agents expect you to accept that basic rate and not turn down the job because it doesn’t pay enough.  Some kids who are top bookers and work during the school day may be able to ask their agents to negotiate a four-hour minimum, and that makes for a better rate for missing a day of school.  By “typical job” I mean clothing and department stores or catalog/online companies.  Some of these jobs may also offer a day rate, which is probably in the $600-$800 range (so can actually be less than the typical hourly) and maybe as high as $1000-$1200 for the day.  If a company is in town for several days doing a shoot, they may use your kid five times for 2-hour bookings, so you may have to go into the city five times for ten hours, or they may book you in an 8-hour chunk and a 2-hour chunk or whatever combination.  A mom (shout out!) of top repeat booker for a company told me last summer that her daughter had worked 80 hours (that’s EIGHTY hours) for a company during a two-week time period.  NICE, right?!?  Cha-CHNING!!!

Some companies pay hourly and then provide a usage fee for the kids who go to print.  That tends to be more common in commercial print, which is the type of ad you see in a magazine, say, for a car company or laundry detergent.  Sometimes these ads pay the usage bonus because there may be exclusivity involved – for example, if you are in a Ford ad, Honda may not want to use your kid for an ad within the next few months.  That’s not usually a big problem over on the clothing side, but I do know of a few companies that want exclusivity.  Since that exclusivity expectation can take you out of the running for similar campaigns by different companies, they really should pay more to make up for your lost opportunities.  Pharmaceutical companies typically expect exclusivity, and will make you promise in writing five times before you even show up to the casting that you haven’t been in a pharmaceutical ad in the past whatever amount of time.  I’m not even really exaggerating here.

The print jobs that tend to pay the best are campaigns done for products or companies by ad agencies themselves (as opposed to in-house creative departments that produce catalogs and store signage).  These gigs can be clothing but can also be things like insurance companies, watches, jewelry, and the commercial print products I mentioned above.  They usually have an account from the client to develop and carry out the ad campaign, so their budget tends to be bigger.  These often pay well in relation to other print jobs but not as well as the adults get paid, which seems really unfair – especially when the kid and adult are in the same shots and on set for the same amount of time.  I take that back – it doesn’t seem unfair, it IS unfair.  Note to self: explore class-action lawsuit.  Anyway, these jobs are often up over $1000/day, and it’s really awesome when your kid books one.

On the low end of the pay range is editorial work.  Editorial is magazines (either printed or online) and can be a little as $50/hr or sometimes even free/unpaid.  The free/unpaid work does not usually go through agencies, and I’ll write more about unpaid work in the future.  (Controversy alert!)  One editorial job we did was $150/day, and that’s probably about as low as agency work goes.  It was, however, Elle kids (Italia) and thus a great gig, but you do those for the quality of the shoot as opposed to the pay rate.

Location shoots seem like great jobs because of the travel perks, such as nice destinations and good hotels, but they are usually a day rate (and they typically work you as many hours in the day as possible) and are a whirlwind pace.  Don’t get me wrong, I totally want my daughter to book some fabulous location gig someday, but they usually don’t afford you the time for a “vacation” segment of the trip.  Some location shoots are a travel day, a shoot day, and a travel day back home…so not a lot of relaxing going on there.  Beach shoots, in particular, can be tough for little ones, because it can be hard work to keep the kid dry and not sand-covered while waiting to shoot when the water is right there.  That takes a pretty disciplined child model to be hanging out on a beach all day just for pictures.

When booking through an agency, the agency takes 20% from the gross pay and 20% from the client.  Let’s say you have a 2-hour $125/hr job.  The total paid to the model is $250, which the agency will receive, and take $50.  The agency will receive an additional $50 from the client.  Your child will receive a check for $200.  That assumes, however, the client does not use a payroll system for models but hires them as independent contractors; clients that hire the models will ask for all the paperwork you would bring to the first day of a job (W-4, Social Security card, proof of citizenship) and then send a check to the agency after deductions for FICA and other taxes.  Then, of course, you get far less than $200.  The commission for the agency still comes off of the $250…so you do pay taxes on that and would later deduct it as a business expense.

How does it all add up?  A friend’s daughter that I know made in the ballpark of $45,000 last year and she is what I would call a TOP booker.  If a kid books 3 2-hour jobs a month, maybe give or take a couple good day rates and some lower editorial rates, that adds up to around $8,000-$10,000…and that would probably be considered a regular booker.  (And remember, 20% comes off as well as taxes in some cases…)  So, bottom line, this is NOT a big-money career for a child – and sizes are not consistent either, so you may have a great year and then a lousy year right after that.  (Cough, cough…size 4!!!)

Expenses are too big of a topic for today, but sometime in the future I’ll go through the expenses involved in a typical day of work for us.  

Thoughts or questions?  Add a comment here, on my facebook page The Bizzy Mama, or send me an email at thebizzymama@gmail.com …I’m also on Instagram at TheBizzyMama.  Don’t forget to share the love by clicking on the brown icon below…I want to become a top-ten Mommy Blogger!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The response to my letter about the "Reunion Discount"...and my response to that.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a letter I received from my high school -- where I had subsequently taught for eight years.  They had offered me a "once in a lifetime opportunity" to receive a discount for attendance at the centennial reunion.  I was put off -- to say the least, and I shared my reaction with you.  A friend asked me a few days ago, "Whatever happened with that letter?"

Here's the response.

Dear Diane,

I am sorry that you took offense at my letter to graduates/former faculty concerning Centennial Reunion Weekend. I certainly had no intention of offending anyone or belittling your service and commitment to our school.

Centennial Reunion Weekend is a once in a lifetime event specifically for our alumni. It is meant primarily as a time for them to re-connect with their classmates and friends. Both current and former faculty are welcome and encouraged to join our alumni
during the daytime events, and so far we have received a nice response to this invitation. The event on Saturday evening is a celebration of our alumni and given the sheer number of former faculty and former faculty/graduates and the costs associated
with the event, we are unable to offer the event free of charge. All Alumni must pay a fee to attend, but as a courtesy we offered a reduced fee to former faculty/graduates. Please be assured that we have researched this issue at length with our sister
schools who have celebrated a Centennial recently and this is the common practice.

We have scheduled numerous other events throughout our Centennial Year that will be open to parents, faculty (current and former), alumni, students and friends. Some will be ticketed events, but most will be free of charge.

Again, I am sorry that you have interpreted our invitation this way.  As you have requested, we will certainly remove your name from all mailing lists and will continue to notify you of your deceased classmates.


And here's my response to THAT...

I'm sorry that you seem to have misinterpreted my message as wishing for an explanation of your need to justify the request for payment or as some sort of request for you to change your fee schedule.  I believed I was clear in my introduction that I had no intention of attending.  Rather, I wanted you to know that in this case, perhaps no gesture whatsoever would have been better than the gesture that service and dedication to the School somehow merited a discounted meal.

Please also know that I spent many hours as an admission officer as well as a proud graduate and faculty member.  Never did I ever remember being informed that an answer such as yours, that you tried to make the same policy as "sister schools", would be satisfactory in any sort of school marketing or promotion.  In fact, I find that explanation rather trite.

I thought ___ prided itself on rising above the rest, as evidenced by the adherence to the Five Values.  Also worth noting, I served on the committee that chose, developed and implemented those Five Values.

But if ___ wishes to present itself as consistent with "sister schools" so be it.

This has left such an incredible bad taste in my mouth.  Your response certainly did not mitigate my feelings expressed this morning.  I guess I thought ___ was different.


And that's all she wrote.  Done and done.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Happy Mother's Day to my model moms!

I was thinking all those sentimental Mother’s Day thoughts, and decided to bring some of those over here to the blog – not in a cheesy way, but more in a way to show the appreciation for the model-moms I’ve met during our time in the business.  Whenever people ask me about my favorite part of child modeling, I always say “the people I meet!” because I really have met some of the coolest people.  There are some shout outs here, but I don’t want anyone to feel left out – I just want to share a cross section of the moms I’ve met and how I’ve met them.

The first model-mom friend I met was a mom I began corresponding with via Backstage.  I noticed her kiddo was active in the business and she was with the first agency with which we worked.  I liked her writing style: casual but knowledgeable, and after some regular correspondence, we realized we had similar tastes in music, were in a similar age range, and had compatible senses of humor.  I can be wry and sarcastic, so I appreciate it when people “get” me!  As we got busier in modeling, she began introducing me to other moms, and helped me figure out which kids my daughter was shooting with…and I slowly but surely got to know more and more people from there.

Meeting more moms in the business grew exponentially through Facebook.  I would connect with moms I met at shoots and moms whose kids shot with mine, and I slowly figured out who knew whom and how other people were connected – did their kids shoot together often?  Do they live in the same town and carpool?  Do they have the same agents or managers?  Are their kids BFFs?  And slowly but surely I put more names with faces and got to know some very cool moms.  I even met a mom who lives two miles from me – which is crazy since we live over a hundred miles from the City.  These moms are – on their own – fantastic women.  While many are SAHM’s, just as many have full-time careers they juggle with their kids’ busy schedules.  Two moms I know are ER doctors, one practicing emergency medicine and the other practicing psychiatry – and they have three and four little ones respectively.  I know moms who are pharmacists, bankers, bakers, lawyers, and flight attendants.  Moms who run their own or their family businesses from laptops while on set.  A sommelier!  An accomplished poet!  Some of the moms who stay at home had careers in television, fashion and finance.  My friends are devout Catholics, Orthodox Jews, Greek Orthodox, Evangelical Christians, Bosnian Muslims and everything or nothing  in-between; Chinese, Polish, Korean, Ukrainian, Russian, Puerto Rican, Hungarian, and even from Ohio… These are seriously educated and dynamic women who somehow, like me, tumbled into the performing arts for their children.  (And if you happen to meet up at a roof-top bar, they are even more fabulous!)

I have to say, and I do not mean to disparage PTO moms in my town, but it’s been hard for me to meet fun people outside of my colleagues – I never really connected to the “mom scene” at my kids’ schools, mostly because I always felt on the fringes because I could never do the meetings and activities most of them seemed to do during the day.  Meeting these model moms has seriously broadened a horizon for me that I didn’t know existed – I’m so lucky that I found a way to meet new friends in my forties.  While we do talk a lot about the business, we’ve also shared a lot about our personal lives.  Sometimes you spend a few days on a set with a small group of moms, and during the course of those days, you can share a lot.  If I’m on the phone trying to make sure my kid gets dropped off at drivers’ ed, I’m bound to be telling you about the challenges of coordinating kids going back and forth between two households in the summer… and that might lead to a story about my ex… which might lead to some back story about my first marriage… and divorce… and you get the point. 

You just get to know each other.  And soon, you experience births and deaths… job losses and illnesses… and did you know that we have a hold for whatever company?  It all blends together.  And it makes sense to us.  If I go to the waiting area at ballet class, I’m probably not going to strike up a conversation with a random mom and kvetch about ANOTHER Joe Fresh go-see after going to four and never booking…for the same reason I wouldn’t launch into an explanation for the professional goal data report I have due at work the next day.  It’s shop talk, and for shop talk, you need people who work in the same shop for a truly good sharing session.

Bottom line: I love my model-mom friends.  Shout outs to all!

Give me a shout out while you're at it...I haven't written in a week or so, so I need some love at Top Mommy Blogs.  Click the icon below to help put me back in the running.  Also, you can connect with me on my Facebook page, The Bizzy Mama or via email at thebizzymama@gmail.com.  I'm also on Instagram at thebizzymama.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Preview Photo from Gina Kim Shoot

What else can I say...I'm in love with this photo!  This is a preview posted by Gina Kim...stay tuned to her blog, Enfant Street Style, to see more in the future.  The suit is by Florence Fancy, and the shoes are by Nina.  Hair by...me; makeup: none.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Shooting with Gina Kim

Sunday we headed into the city to meet with Gina Kim, a marvelous children’s fashion photographer.  She asked months ago to shoot my daughter for her blog, Enfant Street Style (be sure to  click the link to check it out – Gina was recently in Europe and she just posted some stunning work) and we have been trying to find a time when we were both available AND HAD GOOD WEATHER to shoot.  Gina loves kids’ fashion, as evidenced by her work on her blog and other projects.  She does private shoots as well as fashion and look-books (catalogs of clothing for store/boutique clothing buyers, usually, rather than consumers).  We actually met her when she was shooting the FW15 look-book for IMOGA (click here for a preview), a line developed and designed by a woman in New Jersey who used her background in fashion to design girls’ clothes that are beautiful and classically styled yet contemporary in fit and fabric.  Gina’s clean, unpretentious style focuses on both the girls and the fashion which, in my opinion, makes her the perfect photographer for the IMOGA line.

Ever since my daughter started modeling and I started paying a lot of attention to the photographers out there in the New York area, my eyes have been drawn to Gina.  Her photos draw your eyes to both the child and the clothing, and the sample clothes she gets from the designers are ahhh-mazing.  I have always been drawn to photographers who capitalize on the natural beauty of children, and use their expertise to capture the light and highlight the kids’ features.  I know NOTHING about photography, so I cannot really say much about technique – I’m just drawn to stuff I like.  And I really like Gina!  Needless to say, I was excited that she asked my daughter to shoot with her.

The day was PERFECT.  I mean, PERFECT New York City weather.  Did I mention the weather was perfect?  Warm enough for just a t-shirt, not too much humidity (although maybe a little high in the pollen count), warm sunshine, and stuff in bloom.  Everywhere, stuff in bloom.  You may picture New York as a “concrete jungle” but really, you can find pockets of gorgeous flowering trees and plantings all throughout.  We met on Park Avenue and East 69th Street, which is a neighborhood of…well, you know that Bravo show Million Dollar Listing?  Let’s just say Fredrik Eklund would jump up and down and squeal to list one of these brownstone row houses.  It’s like, if my PowerBall won PowerBall I could buy in this neighborhood.  Park Avenue itself is wide with the each directions divided by a grassy mall, dotted with blooming trees and tulip beds adjacent to all of the crosswalks.  As I mentioned, Gina and I had been trying to get together since…maybe February?  and the quality of the day yesterday made me glad we had been forced to postpone so long.

Gina is so personable, and many moms who have worked with her remark how young she is.  She’s only been out of college a few years, but her youth shouldn’t fool you – she’s very talented and knows her stuff.  Gina brought a sample outfit from Florence Fancy, and as she took it from her bag I knew it was going to be perfect.  It was a little above-the-knee boucle slightly A-line skirt and collarless jacket.  The boucle was mostly a natural color, with some pinks and other touches of pastels woven in.  A delicate tone-on-tone trim finished the piece.  We paired it with a simple ballet-style white tank (though it was mostly hidden by jacket, which featured a clasp at the collar) and bone-colored Mary Jane shoes.  The only grooming was a quick brush of her hair, which I had washed and quickly blow-dried before we left, so it was shiny and soft.

Gina had scouted the location and planned out the angles for the shoot.  She shot on a street corner, in front of some brownstones, and in the middle “mall” on Park Avenue, with the red tulips in full bloom behind her.  All told, we were finished in about half an hour.  My daughter  has been rolling with this wistful, far-away look and not giving a lot of big “CHEESE!” smiles to the camera, so I’m anticipating a more “editorial” look (serious faces and poses; think magazines not catalogs).

Now the fun part – we wait for Gina to post the pictures.  She will also share the images with me, so I can print them out for my daughter’s book (portfolio).  I'll be sure to share one here, too!

Who are your favorite photographers?  I’d love to hear your stories!  Add a comment here, on my facebook page The Bizzy Mama, or send me an email at thebizzymama@gmail.com …I’m also on Instagram at TheBizzyMama.  Don’t forget to share the love by clicking on the brown icon below…I want to become a top-ten Mommy Blogger!
A shot by Gina Kim for the Imoga FW15 collection at Hamilton's Soda Restaurant in Greenwich Village back in December

Monday, May 4, 2015

Tear Me a Great One

When a model mom says, “Those will be some great tears!” she’s not referring to a future bout of crying.  She means tear-sheets, as in, tearing a page out of a newspaper or magazine.  Way back when I was in high school (which was apparently A REALLY LONG TIME AGO because that age-guessing app that’s gone viral said I appeared EIGHTY-FIVE YEARS OLD) my mom managed an advertising department at a newspaper publishing group.  One summer I was cobbling together some babysitting and other part-time jobs, and they just happened to have a need for help in their tear-sheet room.  Enter me; in need of work and relatively responsible, I got hired to clean up the tear-sheet room.  I am probably the only model mom who has actually had a job handling tear-sheets…and truthfully,today  most tear sheets are not actually sheets any more but screen shots.  (Which kind of makes for a sad book, or portfolio, of a model’s work.)

Anyway, the job in the tear-sheet room had been unfilled for a while, and there was a massive backlog of tear-sheet requests.  Basically, a tear-sheet was page – torn from the newspaper – sent to advertisers to prove that their ad actually ran in the paper and that it was what the client paid for.  A tear-sheet had to be the whole page of the newspaper, because it needed to include the title and date of the publication.  A local business might just want one or two tear-sheets, whereas a car dealership, perhaps, might want several; one or two for the dealership’s own records and maybe a few to send directly to Toyota, say, to account for the corporate advertising piece.  Tear-sheets in that sense were basically receipts, and as part of the advertising purchase, customers could request as many as they wanted.  That meant a seventeen-year-old would sit in a fluorescently-lit inner-room in a building that once housed a grocery store, listening to the local classic rock mega station (the only thing that would come in on the radio; two-fer Tuesdays were definitely the best) barely covering up the repetitive din of the printing presses, getting blackened fingers from pulling ads from inky newspapers and stuffing them into manila envelopes.  And addressing them by hand.  This is like, the epitome of any job that has been long-since eliminated by the “information superhighway.”  (Incidentally, so has the publishing company; that building is now a Chinese Golden Buffet and the newspapers have been bought up by the few remaining dailies in larger markets and now probably merit an article or two in online coverage.  I get my hometown news from a Facebook page now.  Wow, I’m totally depressing myself…)

“Good tears” are fantastic images of our kids with clear, happy expressions and cool clothes.  Ideally, a great brand will be attached to the picture as well.  Sun-kissed hair, seersucker and madras…running on the beach in the Hamptons for Ralph Lauren?  Great tear.  Pajamas and a dog for a Hanna Andersson Christmas catalog?  Great tear.  Tiny picture of a hooded towel for a discount chain?  Not really a great tear.  Happy for the job, don’t get me wrong…but that one is folded up in its original weekly flyer in the back of my daughter’s book.  Great tears, incidentally, can lead to more great bookings.  Our agent likes to use tears for submissions.  Kids who have a great set of tears may not need an assortment of professional pictures for modeling submissions because agents can submit tear-sheet photos to clients and clients can see what the kids look like at work.  (Some agents still want their kiddos to have great pro-pics, that way the agents can really have their say about how the kid is presented to a client.  That’s cool, too.  If your agent operates that way, AND IS NOT REQUIRING YOU TO PURCHASE PICS FROM THE AGENT, that’s fine…it’s all agency preference.)

Finding tears of your kids can be remarkably fun OR excruciatingly frustrating.  It’s definitely one of the cool parts of the job.  Your kid goes to a photo shoot and a few months later, you start stalking websites and stores and social media looking for your kid.  If you find some that you love, YIPEE!  Sometimes you will find one of your kid with a goofy smile.  Or in a group shot with six other kids, half cut off.  Or maybe just your kid’s legs.  Sometimes you won’t find one at all…and that can be especially frustrating if the shoot was for a really cool company and your kid went away on location and shot at an amazing botanical garden with fabulous shrubbery sculptures…but I digress.  If you find the pics, you then need to figure out how to get high-quality images from the internet (hard, but necessary if you want to print one for the book), show up at the store to see if your kid is on any coupons or flyers (Oshkosh and Carter’s, for example, shoot a good number of kids and they can end of on myriad possibilities of marketing paraphernalia), and hope that your friends who are on the mailing lists can put stuff aside for you.  Model-moms are famous for carrying around a ton of magazines, catalogs and flyers in their mom-bags to distribute as they see moms who may need them.  It’s like a fun little scavenger hunt.  (I've shared our "first" and "worst" below!)  When we get good ones, we share and “ooh” and “aaah” together, and when we get the turned-around/hoodie-over-the-face shoot, we laugh about it.  Sort of.

Just a follow up on the pageant world: some moms provided me with a little more information about pageants.  There are two types of pageants: glitz and natural.  Glitz is the type we associate with Jon-Benet: the hair and makeup along with the beyond-beyond-beyond clothing.  Natural is more like dressing up but keeping to the “real” girl: no wigs or heavy makeup.  For the older girls – say, ten and up –  I saw a few pics this past weekend, and they looked like they were dressed for a very special occasion, like maybe prom (back in the good old days, before girls started wearing nothing to the prom – have I mentioned I’m a high school teacher?) with floor-length dresses, natural makeup, and “done” but not “DONE” hair.  And these girls looked great – like they were really having a good time.  Toddlers and Tiaras seems to be more focused on the glitz world, and thinking through my friends who do pageants, I don’t really know any glitz moms and daughters.

What are your best and worst tear sheets?  I’d love to hear your stories!  Add a comment here, on my facebook page The Bizzy Mama, or send me an email at thebizzymama@gmail.com …I’m also on Instagram at TheBizzyMama.  Please don’t forget to share the love by clicking on the brown icon below…I want to become a top-ten Mommy Blogger!  You can vote once a day from each device!

My daughter's first...
...and the worst.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Jon-Benet Didn't Eat My Daughter, but Elsa Might Have

Back in my first post about child modeling, I wrote that people often ask, with demi-horror, “Is that like Toddlers and Tiaras?”  And I always fly back with a response, “No! No! Not at all!”  Child modeling in the NYC market is soooo different from what you see on that show.  (But I do know a really great mom and her daughter who were on the show years ago!  Shout out!!!)  The truth is, however, I have met some really cool pageant kids and moms in the industry, and I’ll give you my perspective on the whole thing.

When we were spending time in Florida a couple weeks ago, my wife’s cousin uttered a name I hadn’t heard in a while: Jon-Benet Ramsey.  (May she rest in peace.)  For those of us a little older, we probably remember those pictures of giant hair, makeup, and sophisticated clothing.  Like a little adult.  Well, like a little adult who wears way too much makeup.  Her death was obviously horrifying and I really don’t think there was any connection to her time as a pageant girl, but that’s the image we have of this little one – and it’s kind of uncomfortable.  Like, why couldn’t we see her in play clothes on a swing at the park?  I think the media exploited that whole pageant thing far more than focusing on the tragedy of her death.

I conjure that image in your mind, though, to present a sort of “opposite” of what child modeling in like in the NYC market.  I’m emphasizing the NYC market, but my description really applies to any market that does shoots for the products and clothing you see in national (and international) campaigns.  For this market, the look for kids is very natural.  Absolutely minimal makeup: maybe a little concealer to even out skin tone; a dab of blush; wisp of lip gloss…and never anything on the eyes but a little clear mascara to add a little gloss to the natural lashes.  Take a look at your J. Crew, Hanna Andersson, and Macy’s catalogs.  Those kids are fresh-faced and look playful, like they just stepped off the playground or maybe a little dressed up for a special occasion.  If you want to submit your kid for child modeling work, those are the images you should be considering.

Now if you shift a little bit more toward the direction of hair, makeup, and fancy outfits there are opportunities for modeling for boutiques and designers or photographers who do styled shoots.  You’ve probably seen some of those looks on the internet as well…a lot of those shoots are actually unpaid (or sometimes parents pay) and can be really fun for parents and kids who love dress-up and a more formal setting.  This is where I’m getting toward pageants…if you like that kind of thing – the hair, makeup, the over-the-top outfits – great!  Enjoy…and really, the moms I know who do pageants have a great time and their daughters love the experience.  I’m sure they would not do it otherwise.  But really, you cannot compare it to modeling for clients like Target and Oshkosh.  It’s totally apples and oranges.  So when people ask if what my daughter does it like Toddlers and Tiaras, the answer really is no way – it’s just very different.

If you’ve ever hit up a women’s studies class in college, you’ve heard of Peggy Orenstein.  Peggy (I’ll go with the whole first-name basis, because of my casual style…I do not know her personally, however, and I mean no disrespect.)  is a feminist.  She wrote one of the essential Women’s Studies 101 books,  Schoolgirls: Young Women, Self Esteem, and the Confidence Gap.  She was a prominent voice in the movement to close gaps between boys and girls in school.  So, absolutely, Peggy is a feminist with a capital F.  After a very long struggle with fertility and adoption, Peggy had a daughter.  Naturally, she believed that she had a leg up on the whole raising-a-self-confident-daughter parenting method.  This is where I want you to think about every parenting method you imagined before you had your children.  They all went out the window, right?  And if not, I cannot relate to you.  (I once said my child would own no Barbies.  We would not have princess crap.  Falling out of my chair laughing now…)

If you’ve encountered Peggy Orenstein more recently, you may be more familiar with the title Cinderella Ate My Daughter.  As she raised her daughter, Peggy realized that this thing – a phenomenon, if you will – happens to girls.  There is something about the culture out there that can sweep girls into its lair of pink and glitter, and turn tiny radical feminist offspring into tiara’d wand-wavers.  So Peggy examined it and wrote about it.  It’s a great book; full of thought-provoking observations and investigations.  (Spoiler alert: it’s all about the money.)  She did a chapter about pageants, and interviewed a lot of moms who said they experience was great for their daughters’ self-confidence.  She was pretty critical about the lengths to which these families would spend and prepare…but whatever.  I don’t want anyone telling me how to spend my money.  Bottom line, if you like it…and your kid likes it…why not?  Is it damaging to kids?  I don’t know.  Each kid is different.  Is being a crazy hockey mom or soccer mom or gymnastics mom any different from being a pageant mom or model mom?  What is or isn’t damaging to kids?  Find the perfect recipe for parenting and enjoy that Nobel Peace Prize money, because there would never be strife anywhere because we’d all be so well-adjusted.

There’s one difference I can think of, though.  And I am by no means implying this is better or worse.  Sports, music, and even pageants have competition.  In modeling, the competition is different.  It’s like, you have NO control whatsoever.  In sports and the arts, and this includes the acting that some of our kids do, practice and lessons and hard work can improve your kid’s chance.  In pageants, you can hire a better coach, work more on the routine, get a new dressmaker…and see if that improves your outcome.  That kind of competition can actually be pretty satisfying; put in the effort and see improvement.  (And the whole money thing?  Yes, more money can equal better chances.  How much does that ice time cost for our Olympic athletes?  Summer sports camp?  Private acting lessons?)  The modeling industry as I know it could be called competitive: as in, how many Caucasian size 4 medium blonde girls are at a casting?  But short of being on time and presenting a clean and cooperative kid, there’s nothing she or I could do to improve her chances.  (And by nothing, I mean not even showing your…nevermind.)

Do moms get competitive over the whole thing?  Eh, maybe sometimes.  I’ll tackle that a different day.

Pageant moms, feel free to give me your take on all of this.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!  Add a comment here, on my facebook page The Bizzy Mama, or send me an email at thebizzymama@gmail.com …I’m also on Instagram at TheBizzyMama.  Don’t forget to share the love by clicking on the brown icon below…I want to become a top-ten Mommy Blogger!

Dress up can be fun!  (Photo by Altie Charlap)