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