Picture yourself walking into Nordstrom. You see the Tory Burch shoe selection. You pick up a few of the shoes, stroke them lovingly, and you decide to try a couple of pairs on. You’re thinking, just one pair…I’ll splurge a little bit…I’ve been so good about not spending too much money…maybe the gold flats…or the wedge sandals…or maybe the blue ones! You try them on, all look fabulous (because this is a hypothetical situation and you don’t have barges attached to your ankles) and you choose the pair you’re going to buy. The shoe salesman completes your sale and you are out the door, silver bag in hand, ready to conquer the world in your new shoes.
You only got one pair. But you tried on three and they were all great…right? You chose the blue ones. On a different day, you might have gotten the sandals. At that moment, though, the blue ones were your favorite. My question is, and here’s where I’m going with this, is: did you reject the other ones?
Your answers might vary, but I was reminded about the subject of rejection in child modeling and acting the other day by a mom (shout out!) who was considering getting her son into the business (in addition to her daughter) but she was concerned that her son might be too aware of the rejection, which her younger daughter didn’t even notice yet.
I’ve tackled the subject of rejection in discussions with seasoned model moms and skeptical bystanders alike. It’s part of the business. A huge part of the business. And unless you are one of the half dozen or so child models I can count off the top of my head who book constantly, you’re going to face rejection ALL. THE. TIME. Most of it? You won’t even know about it because your agent submitted you for something and you didn’t get requested. Does this kind of rejection hurt kids? The older ones obviously know they went to a go-see and didn’t book – how does that feel? Even for the younger ones, the parents are aware of the rejection, and sometimes the parents take it very personally. Is it okay to face that rejection? I’m offering up my answer: a resounding, YES, it’s ok and probably actually good for kids!
If you’re not in the business (or even if you are) think for a moment about everything your child does (outside of modeling). Swimming, ballet, baseball, choir, fencing, whatever. How many times has your child been rejected? Chances are, if you have a kiddo under age 10 or so, the answer is probably…not many times. Little kids tend not to face any rejection. End of the year class ceremonies give awards to every child (Brightest smile! Most colorful wardrobe!) and not just the top spellers and the best readers. EVERY snowman collage gets hung up in the classroom, not just the ones most pleasing to the eye (and, er, accurate…what was that one kid thinking?!?). We’ve created this cushy, fuzzy, warm, and safety-padded world for our kids in which they never face any real rejection unless they engage in competitive activities…and even then…let’s just say my son puts the BEN in BENch, and he’s fifteen.
So I explained this all to a group of my friends, and many seemed to agree. A little rejection is good sometimes. Learning how to handle it gracefully can be an amazing feat on the way to building good character…and a way to gain some perspective on how the real world works. Explaining it to kids can also be challenging, because we still need to sugar-coat (foreshadowing!) it so kids can handle it. So I came up with this analogy that’s more suited to kids than my Tory Burch shoe analogy above.
Imagine going into a big candy store. It has EVERYTHING sweet and delicious a kid might want. And everything looks soooo good…maybe Bit O’ Honey is not your thing, but gummy sharks? Heck yeah! And your mom tells you that you can pick out three things. How do you ever pick just three from the whole entire store? You just do. Does it mean you rejected all the other candy in the store? Technically, sure. But does it feel like rejection? Not really – you just picked the three things that seemed really good at that moment. If you go back next week, you may pick three different things. Or one or two the same and something else different. (The gummy sharks tasted stale.) Or maybe this week you can only get one. Next week you can get four! All the candy is good…there are different flavors and some are just variations on the same thing (red Swedish fish, cherry gum drops, and red gummy worms) but you still have to narrow it down. And sometimes there is a candy that’s there all the time but no one really chooses except on rare occasions (wax lips?)…but you know it’s there should you ever desire it.
Kids can probably understand that. They make choices all the time – ONE lollipop at the bank, ONE beanie beast at the toy store – they can see that sometimes options need to be narrowed and maybe you can make the connection to modeling and acting for them. Remind them of all the other cool things they do. Teach yourself to get past the go-sees and holds that don’t result in bookings (if they see you upset, they’ll learn to feel that way, too). As they say, “On to the next!”
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