Sunday, January 31, 2016

Did you know…? Workplace Safety for Child Performers (Second in a series.)

Recently, two moms contacted me with some pretty serious safety concerns about the sets where their children were called to work.  As parents, we’re used to being pretty vigilant with our kids – we tend not to take them to places we deem unsafe.  For example, I usually don't allow my kids to climb on the lumber in Home Depot…while climbing at the playground padded with 12” of superfoam is usually ok.  (Laugh about it – this is my sad attempt at humor while I am procrastinating doing my Stats homework.)  We all know how stressful it is to bring the kids to a relative’s house that is not child-proofed – it’s like playing full body goalie to keep your kid from tumbling off the floating staircase or forming a percussion band experiment on the Ming vases.  You get the point.  We also tend to think places where children are expected to be -- whether it’s a birthday party, school, or day care – are going to be safe.  So reason would have it that sets for children’s photo shoots would be safe as well, right?

Um, no.  Not really.

Here’s what New York State law says about the safety of child performers:

(a) The employer shall provide the child performer and his or her parent or guardian with information and instruction to protect the health or safety of the child performer, including any potential hazards associated with the specific activities that he or she will be expected to perform. In addition, a child performer must be given adequate instruction and rehearsal time for the specific activities he or she is to perform in order to protect his or her health or safety.

(b) A child performer and his or her designated responsible person shall be given orientation training to the workplace, other than the child performer’s own residence, that is adequate and appropriate to their ages.

Orientation training should include:
(1) Health and safety precautions for the venue or location;
(2) Traffic patterns backstage or on location;
(3) Safe waiting areas for child performers backstage or on location;
(4) Restricted areas;
(5) Location of rest areas/rooms, toilets, makeup areas, and other relevant rooms;
(6) Emergency procedures; and,
(7) Employer designated persons to inform of hazardous conditions and what actions to take.

Sounds pretty good, right?  If only.

I think I mentioned this in the previous “Did you know…?”  but I’ll say it again.  This business is not always child friendly, and it operates much more on the basis of “children dropped into an adult world” rather than adults creating a world for children.  One of the mothers who contacted me described the WAITING AREA of the shoot to be kind of like a Home Depot: ladders and wires and set construction stuff all over the place.  This was the waiting area.  She said that every mother there was playing the full-body goalie game, trying to keep little ones – we’re talking fifteen month olds here – safe and happy.  (A walking fifteen-month-old is a creature unto its own…if you have older kids, you’ve probably blocked that all out of your memory.  I remember childbirth better than I remember chasing my kids around at that age.)  Now, obviously this description of the waiting area falls far from the parameters of the law.

Another mom described the conditions on a location shoot to be nothing short of oppressive.  High heat, kids waiting around in winter clothes (in the summer), no cool place to wait while kids were visibly distressed and showing signs of the heat affecting their well-being, random production staff taking kids to different areas of the location without parents knowing, no private places to change children’s clothes for the shoot, and flights of stairs for parents and little ones to navigate endlessly because of the extreme disorganization on set.  A typical shoot in these conditions would have an air-conditioned motor home parked on set, with seating (not much room, but cool and safe enough for everyone to have good supervision over the children) and a private changing area, a place outdoors for the kids to play between shoots, and a way to keep either our own beverages or production-provided beverages at least a little cool for our kids. 

And here’s another one -- not recent, but an incident that is burned into my mind: a child FELL INTO A POND on a location shoot and a mom had to jump in a rescue the child.  What on earth were they thinking holding a shoot right near a pond when plenty of little kids were in the vicinity?

Now tell me this: would Gigi Hadid put up with this?  These shoots I described were for good brands and stores – with plenty of resources to make a couple of adjustments to keep the models more comfortable – but they did not take care to make sure the children were safe and at least slightly comfortable on set.  Of those provisions I provided from the law, how many glaring violations can you see?  Now, I paint these severe pictures as worst-case-scenarios.  Generally speaking, I have found sets to have some safety concerns such as wires and gear that could be unsafe for the kids, but generally I’ve experienced safe waiting areas and the kids have been well-supervised on set.  Most productions tend to show concern for the little ones’ well-being.  I personally don’t have any horror stories…yet.

So here’s the big question: what do you do when you’re on set and these things happen?

I’ll focus on print here.  Production companies (the people hired to set things up, organize the schedule, get the creative team’s vision into reality) are not child-care professionals.  They are not used to the safety concerns we only really realized once we had our own kids.  So it’s going to happen that you may encounter some degree of the inconveniences I mentioned.  First of all, advocate for your child.  There should be a “point person” on the set – and if you’re not sure who that is, ask someone who signs the vouchers.  The person who signs the vouchers is probably someone with some degree of control in the situation.  Express concern and ask specifically for what you need.  Some examples: “I’m concerned that there is not a private area for the kids to change.  Can you make a space?”  (They can…there is stuff they can move around or they can clear an area behind a clothing rack if nothing else.)  “I feel like there are a lot of unsafe things in the waiting area – can someone come and rearrange a few things so the kids aren’t so close to the wires?”  I feel like the calm, professional parent can get a lot done with this type of direct concern/ask for change type interaction.  It’s not confrontational and puts the staff into the position of looking like idiots if they say no.

Now, what if the staff is surly or unresponsive?  Or just so disorganized that they cannot stop for five minutes to accommodate these simple requests?  I think the next step is to call your agent.  Your agent has the contact information for someone somewhere who has some control on the set, and your agent should contact that person immediately.  As I mentioned in my previous post, your agent needs to know the law and your agent needs to be willing to advocate for your child.  You want your agent to tell you it’s ok to leave if you feel like your child is unsafe or disregarded – and your agent should take up payment, etc., with the client afterwards.  If your agent hesitates and seems to want you to stay so you don’t lose the booking, maybe it’s time to have a conversation with the agent.

On-camera sets tend to be different.  Modeling is only recently covered under the child performer law, and they probably don’t know all they should about the rights and protections of children.  THIS DOES NOT EXCUSE THEM, but it may explain why they need a reminder about their sets.  Production staffs that do on-camera (or stage) are somewhat more versed in the law, as it has tended to be enforced more with them.  The unions, SAG/AFTRA and AEA, have more stringent protections for the children than the law provides, and they have a representative on set to make sure production complies with union rules, so you know exactly who the point person is when you have concerns.  Unfortunately, modeling has no union – yet – to protect its workers.  Here’s a little political plug: if you are opposed to unions, this is one place where you need to acknowledge and be thankful that they actively protect child performers.  (I could go on, but I’ll spare you.)

The only way conditions for children on sets will improve is if parents and agents know the law and advocate for their children.  If EVERY parent and agent insists on safety, no one would have to fear retaliation by reactionary clients and production.  Safety needs to become the norm – on every set – and should never be questioned.

Reactions?  Responses?  Comment here or on my facebook page (The Bizzy Mama) or you can contact me by email at  You can also check out my Instagram if you want to see my kids and pets: TheBizzyMama

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Did You Know...? (First in a Series)

If you've read my recent posts, you know that I have strong feelings about pay-to-work modeling.  Child modeling is a profession, overseen by labor laws.  I have realized, though, in some of my advocacy work, that many parents are not aware of exactly how these labor laws protect their children.  So, I've decided to do some posts about different sections of the New York State law governing child performers -- with an eye toward the level of protection you need to have over your children and how the law supports that.  Here we go!  Part one:

Did you know…

According to NYS child performer law, each child on set must have a “responsible person” overseeing the wellbeing of that child.  Here is what the law says:

(a) Every child performer under the age of 16 shall be assigned a responsible person at least 18 years of age, whose duties shall be to accompany the child throughout the work day and to monitor the child’s safety and well-being. The employer shall allow the responsible person to be within sight or sound of the child at all times during the workday.

Essentially, the responsible person is YOU -- and this law protects YOUR right to watch over your child.  This is particularly important for any child who will be changing clothes – you should personally be in the presence of your child when your child will be undressing.  This isn’t just to prevent your child from being “touched” by someone on set, but also to prevent anyone from sneakily taking pictures of your child.  I don’t mean the photographer (but I will not exclude that possibility).  People on set are often employed by production companies hired by the client and you simply do not know if some tech or assistant is going to snap a shot of your child.  I recommend that you stand in front of your child to block anyone’s view (same or opposite sex) if the changing area is not absolutely private.  I cannot stress enough that there are perverts, sex offenders, and pedophiles out there – and they are often “trusted” adults that your child may have met before.  A common tactic is for someone to recognize a child and warm up to the kid by saying something like, “Remember me?  We met at the ___ shoot!” putting your child in the uncomfortable position of having to warm up to, essentially, a stranger.  Pediatricians, mental health professionals, and industry advocates say there are far more people to be concerned about on sets than we would ever know.

There are some other provisions in this section of the law; for example, the parent may designate a responsible adult over 18 if the parent is not available (if you have a nanny, relative, or even another performer’s parent watching your child that day).  There are further protections for children between 15 weeks and 6 months – these young ones actually require an employer to have a registered nurse on set.

This law now applies to print -- in addition to stage and on-camera.  That's a relatively recent development (within the past couple of years) and many print productions are not fully aware of these laws.  Ideally, your agent should be very familiar with them as well.  In case there is an issue that cannot be easily resolved on set, your first call should be to your agent -- who is the next in line after you as advocate for your child.

Until next time!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Pay-to-Play Runway NO WAY part 2 (or P2PRWNW2)

Wow!  Lots of responses to this pay-to-play runway topic!  I've even had to resort to shorthand: P2PRW.  I’ve spent some time wandering around social media to see what people are thinking, and I’ve seen a LOT of interesting points.  I’ll address some of them specifically, but first I want to focus on what I think is my biggest issue with pay-to-play runway.  Several people raised this point with me, and it zeroes in on some of my biggest concerns with the industry.

So here goes.

Child modeling is a job.  It’s work. 

It sounds really cool, and for most kids, there are bursts of fun and giggling at shoots – but there is a lot of waiting around, getting poked and prodded, reminded to be quiet…there’s a reason it’s paid work.  And as it’s paid work, it’s regulated by labor laws.  A lot of us say it’s a fun hobby – which it may very well be for parents and some families – and the money isn’t anything you’re going to get rich from (see my earlier post about what a child model makes) – but the hobby is actually considered BY LAW to be work for a kid and as such, there are specific requirements and protections built into how it's done.  And these requirements and restrictions are especially important for runway work.  It may not seem like a big deal for an eight-year-old to put on a pretty dress and work that runway – but it’s a slippery slope as to what comes next.  The regulations are designed to protect the little ones as well as to prevent emaciated fifteen-year-olds from walking for Proenza Schouler or whomever.  All kids under 18 are treated the same under child performer laws, and the laws need to be applied to all kids who work.  And let’s just say that California laws make NY laws look like a little board-book story.  (And runway work is explicitly part of child performer laws.)

It’s work.  What do you do for a living?  What do you dream of doing?  Would you work for free?  I highly doubt you would show up and do someone’s job for free – and I’m sure you would never ask anyone to come PAY YOU to do your job.  How would your colleagues feel if someone just paid to show up and do the job with no permit or other requirements of the job?  Again, modeling is work.  It should be treated as such. 

So we're not actually talking pay-to-PLAY...As my friend (shout out!) pointed out, it's pay-to-WORK!  YESSSSS!!!  We're talking about PAY-TO-WORK!

Now – here’s where I can anticipate what you’re thinking.  “You just don’t want someone to come and take away an opportunity for your daughter!”  You know what?  People come and get chosen for jobs she could do EVERY DAY.  Rejection is CONSTANT in this industry.  My daughter gets rejected so many times that I never even know about!  I TRULY do not personalize any of that.  Some moms do, and I really disagree with that belief system.  But honestly, there will ALWAYS be more attractive, cuter, smarter, more talented kids than my daughter and my agency may sign five of them tomorrow.  I have no control over that.  I DO NOT believe that your kid will take any opportunities away from my daughter that your kid doesn’t totally deserve – when you play by the rules of the game.  We don’t even love runway that much.  Don’t get me wrong, we’ll do it, but it’s a long hard day and probably even more fun for me than my daughter. 

Ok, now for some point-by-point responses.

1.  But it’s my child’s dream to be a runway model! 

Ok, it does look cool and it can be a lot of fun.  Lots of little girls like to be pampered and feel beautiful.  Is this the only way?  Is this really your child’s dream?  As any model mom who started when our kids were practically fetal or non-verbal – it was OUR idea.  OUR choice.  As children get older, sure, they have more to say about it.  Are there other dreams you can nurture?  Do you want your child’s dream to be realized by someone making money off of your child’s dream in a way that’s not considered an industry standard or norm – when many other people are playing by the rules?  Do you realize your dreams by paying for the opportunity?  If so, who profits?  Was it worth it in the end?  Think about the lessons you want to reinforce in your home.  (And don’t tell me it was your dream to go skydiving and you did and it was expensive and it was great.  You paid for the company’s experience, their safety expertise, their equipment, their airplane fuel, and their insurance – which I am sure is huge.)

2.  …and we’re not in a big market…we haven’t been picked up by an agency…etc.

All children are beautiful and many designers cast a wonderful range of looks.  Some kids happen to do well modeling and some do not, but that doesn’t mean your child cannot participate in local, charity, or fun runway shows.  If you can’t find one of those, why not organize a runway show for a few Girl Scout troops to raise funds?  Get some people together to sponsor a mission trip?  PTA family night?  You can charge the viewers/guests of the show and it can be a legitimate charity donation.  I am certain you can get a bunch of people excited to participate, maybe some shops willing to lend outfits for publicity (or wear your finest or create a theme) and you can even hire hair and makeup people and a photographer – or get donated services for the charity – for less than it would cost even one girl to participate in some pay-to-play shows.  Get creative.  Want to go to a big city for fashion fun?  Make an appointment with a personal shopper in Bloomingdale’s and book a beauty treatment at Elizabeth Arden.  Stay overnight.  You are still paying far less than some runway shows I’ve seen.

3.  This will give my child exposure!

Highly doubtful…to just NO.   Agencies do not sign/book kids from their runway work.  Actually, I do know one girl who was sort of scouted by an agent at Petite Parade (but then again, it was an event that an agent would actually attend…and she was already a successful actor…so I guess it doesn’t really apply here).  My daughter has done several Petite Parade shows and not once – ever – were the photos from the show used by her agency.  Not once were they ever used for a submission.  Did photographers take her picture?  Sure.  Did she get posted on social media?  Sure.  Did she get a really bad thumbnail pic printed in Vogue Bambini from the show when she was 3 and buried her head all the way down the runway?  Yes.  But you know who soaked up all the exposure she got?  ME.  Moms look for their own kids.  And really…no one else does.  And that’s at Petite Parade!

4.  It’s just like sports or dance or cheer or…fencing or…poetry class!  We pay for all that!

Yes, you do.  And I know those great things are not cheap!  And the older the kids get, the more it all costs!  But it’s not the same.  They get instruction and experience they can actually apply.  They are not paying a fee just to show up at a game and realize their dream of being an all-star.  Those lessons/programs/classes reinforce proper technique, the value of persistence and practice, and many other labor-of-love lessons for our children.  Unlike walking down a runway, the time our children spend in those programs give them the tools to realize both short-term and long-term goals.

Maybe your dream is to play in the World Series.  You can’t just pay to show up and do it.  You can, however, spend a nice weekend at fantasy camp with a real team – for fun – just not doing their jobs.

5.  Modeling is not cheap!

Don’t I know it!  I commute two hours for most of my daughter’s work and that started when gas was $4.00/gallon!  Tolls and parking and lunch/dinner in the city and all that stuff adds up – and that’s not even counting the occasional head shots she may need or the acting classes she’ll start in a year or so.  It’s NOT free.  But you know what?  Those are the business expenses any self-employed worker would incur.  There are all sorts of tax laws to deal with that stuff.  And here’s the clincher: you can only deduct expenses incurred in the course of working or improving your current craft.  (So acting lessons for an actor would work, but not cooking lessons for an actor…unless the actor is preparing for the role of a chef…you get the point.)  Pay-to-play runway wouldn’t qualify for this, since it doesn’t further a career.   And my daughter never, ever pays to work.  Agencies ONLY take money in the form of commission from paid jobs – not one cent beyond that.  And if you live in NYC, most of those travel expenses I pay are off the table.  I work with moms and kids who WALKED from their apartment to the studio!  How easy is that!

6.  But I get to keep the clothes! – or – But we get pictures!

Will your child wear them again?  I mean, I’m sure they are wonderful and show the designer’s vision – but a lot of runway looks are more conceptual than wearable.  Is it really a true win-win?  And about the pictures?  Of course we know that photographers should be paid for their work.  Are you paying the photographer or the designer?  How does the rate for the photographer stack up to the going rate for a similar shoot?  If the designer hires the photographer for just a few hundred bucks but then promises packages of pictures to participants, that really sucks for the photographer!  Just consider what I wrote above about who viewed the runway pictures of my daughter: me.  (And there were some images I selected and purchased full-res from the photographers…for me.)

7.  Not from model moms, but from designers:  Do you know how hard it is for a young/new designer to get started?

Not personally, but I have worked with several and know how they roll.  They work jobs they don’t love during the day and they design and sew at night.  They get friends with cameras to take pics…maybe get a few friends with kids to model…and they grow a little at a time.  I’ve seen lookbooks they printed themselves on color printers they bought at Staples.  They pound the pavement to boutiques and sell on commission.  They work their butts off and some succeed and some don’t.  I don’t want to be all “too bad  / so sad” here, but a lot of people work very hard to realize their dreams or attain what they want in their career and they don’t have the opportunity (or desire) to fund their goals off the desires of little children.  It can be done.

8.  Let’s not all judge each other!!!

I agree.  THAT’S not productive.  But advocating for one’s position is – and I’m advocating to keep the child modeling/talent industry fair for all involved.  Work is work and should be treated as such.  And if we happen to meet and you’ve just done, like, six pay-to-play runway shows with your kid?  Whatever.  You know my feelings already.  I won’t bite.  Six pay-to-play shows AND a “Make America Great Again” hat?  THEN we may have a problem…KIDDING!!!  (Dad?!?)

And just a reminder: make sure if your kid is doing any runway -- paid/unpaid/for pay -- in NYFW, be sure you have your permits on hand and proof of trust account!

For any comments, respond here or on my Facebook page, The Bizzy Mama.  You can reach me by email at and check out some of my daughter's work on Instagram.  And pets.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Quick Clarification

Just want to let you all know -- since I have many new readers -- I receive absolutely no money, services, or goods for my blog or anything I post.  If I did, I would tell you.  I have been accused of receiving something in exchange for "promoting" East Coast Starz in my last post and I did not nor would I accept anything in exchange for their mention.  I know people who have gone to their events and have been very happy with the experience, and that is why I added them into my post.  I attended with my daughter about a year and a half ago but she came down with a fever after we were there only a couple of hours so we left -- but I can say for certain that there were a ton of girls and their moms (and siblings) having a blast.

So, no, sorry, nothing in exchange.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Pay-to-play? No way.

New York Fashion Week?!?!?  We’ve seen it on television – Sex and the City, Entertainment Tonight, Real Housewives…the New York Times devotes many pages to NYFW coverage…it’s huge.  It’s exciting.  It’s REAL.  The.  Real.  Deal.  in fashion.  Right?  But what role is there for children in NYFW?  Or any fashion week in any city?  Let’s first cover how fashion weeks work.

Some shows are huge productions with elaborate lighting, hours of hair and makeup, and legs after legs of gorgeous models.  These tend to be shows by HUGE designers…think Chanel, Marc Jacobs, Chloe, Prada…you know what I mean.  These are the shows that tend to get a lot of press coverage as well.  There are many other shows of all sizes in the City that week…some in designers’ showrooms or small studios…you name the budget, there is a show for it.  Designers often showcase couture (the hand-sewn and embellished one-of-a-kind pieces) along with high-end ready-to-wear to “show off” their looks/concepts for the season, and then have a lookbook available for the buyers to select the items they would like to purchase for their stores.  Some designers show more ready-to-wear looks with a few couture pieces thrown in for their signature touch…and some emerging designers just have a small line of fifteen looks they would love to catch the eye of a single buyer at a good store – just to get started.  It totally ranges!

But here’s what doesn’t happen.  Anna Wintour and Sarah Jessica Parker and Jill Zarin (who famously left a show because she wasn’t front row – Real Housewives reference) and the NYT reporters do NOT pay to attend fashion week shows.  They are invited.  Designers use these shows to showcase their work to get press, ideally good reviews, and to get buyers in the door to purchase their designs for their stores.  DESIGNERS PAY to get their work shown.  They pay the producers or rent the studio, pay for hair and makeup, lighting, probably a photographer to catalog their work, and they send out lots of invitations.  Louis Vuitton?  Will fill a tent.  New designer fresh out of FIT?  Hoping for a big break.  From the big names to the emerging designers, I don’t care who they are…THEY PAY.

Now, whether they PAY THE MODELS or not is somewhat uncertain.  Gigi Hadid?  She gets paid.  But even if she didn’t…her picture would be all over every major fashion publication and social media galore…which would, in fact, be a great score for any model.  Not all designers pay models for runway work.  New models fresh on the scene may go to a fifty castings in a week and may book six shows and may get paid for four…banking on getting some press coverage somewhere for the others.

Now, what is the role of kids in NYFW?  Very little, actually.  I cannot think of many shows that feature kidswear during fashion week.  There are a few, but it’s not a big thing in kids’ modeling.  Sometimes a line will use little ones as accessories or have a few pieces to show.  But NYFW is mostly about the women (though there are men’s and co-ed designers for sure), and those are the celebrities, buyers, VIPs, and press invited to attend.  Of course, children’s buyers and press, etc., would be invited to any line showing children’s wear.

Much more relevant in NYC for children is the ENK Children’s Club trade show, which features tons of children’s designers (WHO PAY TO BE THERE) and is an event that draws buyers from all over the country.  There have been some runway shows there and the organizers of Petite Parade planned their shows to coincide with the Children’s Club shows so that buyers could attend both events when in town.  Petite Parade (see an earlier blog post) was larger when it began and billed itself as (basically) the official show of Children’s Fashion Week, but…it’s expensive to participate and produce, which limited the number of designers who showed.  It would be great for it to really take off, but high-end children’s wear is NOT a huge profit maker.  We may be willing to throw down a few bills for clothes for ourselves, but when it comes to our kids – and an item they will wear maybe once (haha, I bought my daughter a lovely holiday dress this year but never got around to doing a picture – it’s still in the garment bag from shipping) – what’s our bottom line?  Dior can afford a show, but check the label in your child’s best outfit – it’s probably not a huge money-maker.

The title of this post is “Pay-to-play:  No way.”  Since the first word is PAY, you can imagine what I’m getting at here.  Should you ever pay for your child to walk in a runway show?  NO.  Who pays for the runway show?  THE DESIGNER.  Everything about the purpose of the show is to benefit the designer.  I don’t care how “emerging” the designer is – children (and their parents) do not need to support that designer’s show.  There are plenty of designers (and show producers) out there who have offered chances for kids to audition for shows – if they pay to attend.  Or they “invite” children to walk in a show – for $2000.  Can you imagine?  $2000 is TEN two-hour, $100/hr modeling jobs BEFORE commission and expenses.  How many moms would be thrilled to have ten modeling jobs in a year for their kiddo?  Some want you to travel – at your expense – and THEN PAY to be in a runway show.  Do you have any idea how ridiculous this sounds?  And if you try to use it as an example of “legitimate” modeling work, EVERYONE in the biz knows how you got there – you paid for it.  I’m sorry to be really nasty about this, but I am passionate about keeping kids’ modeling a legitimate business for our children.  If it’s not, we all lose.  I use this line of reasoning a lot: we ask our children’s principals to sign off on their permit paperwork here in the NYC market.  Why would a principal sign off on your child missing school to work in a pay-to-play industry?  (I don’t want to get into the school issue here – I’ve threatened in the past to write about it, and maybe someday I will…)  That’s the moral equivalent of taking off from school to go to Disney.  Not how we want schools to view the biz.

I’m only talking here about pay-to-play runway…there are also pay-to-play photo shoots and magazines…I’ll cover those in the future.  Bottom line: never pay for your child to do runway as a legitimate modeling opportunity.

But here’s the question some will inevitably ask:  what if my child really wants to model and we’re not in a big market or my child hasn’t been invited to join an agency?  I’m a little more on the fence about this one.  I do know this: smaller markets and department stores – I know our Nordstom does this – often have smaller shows and they want local kids.  A small fee for these doesn’t really get me too angry – there should NOT be a fee, don’t get me wrong, but it’s kind of like paying for any other activity – $25 dollars to get your hair done and walk down a runway and get a few cool pics?  This may be worth it for you and your child.  $25 to AUDITION, however?  No way!  That is just padding someone’s pocket and is NO benefit to you or your child and is certainly sketchy.  One show is offering two tickets to parents with the $25 dollar audition fee – but seriously, if your child is not selected to walk, are you REALLY going to attend the show?  Doubt it.  And back to those ridiculous fees I mentioned earlier: $2000 to WALK?  Seriously?!?  Even Petite Parade is rumored to be around $20,000 for a designer to show about fifteen looks.  Let’s see…fifteen times $2000…you are part of paying someone $30,000 to walk in their show.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t pay $2000 for a YEAR of any one of my child’s activities, and I am certain she gets more out of those than any one shining moment in some runway show.  (There is even a woman who has gotten models to PAY to attend runway shows SHE HAS CANCELLED several times…I have not had personal involvement with this, but I do have friends who did, and wow, did they regret it!)

So heed my warning.  Stay away.  If you would love for your kid to get involved with fashion but not necessarily pageants, check out EastCoast Starz Runway events.  They do events a few times a year (here on the East Coast, but some families do travel) that have a fee, but it includes a lot of fun things including a custom made outfit for your kid, several photo opportunities, and lots of fun and games for parents and kids.  It’s much more akin to paying for a fun activity for your child.  They also have representatives from some legitimate agencies and managers who attend and meet kids if you’re interested.  I know the woman who runs it, and she works her tail off to provide a good experience for kids.  I know many moms and kids who participate in every event, and they always have a great time.

Any discussion you want to have on this, I invite you to head over to my Facebook page: The Bizzy Mama -- it's an easier forum.  I'm also on Instagram at thebizzymama.

Until next time – Happy New Year!  No pay-to-play this year, ok?