Friday, September 28, 2007

Stage Mama Drama

I did something bad, something embarrassing, something I can only purge by telling the world--or in this case my limited blog audience. I brought my daughter to an open call at a local modeling agency.

In my defense, may I say that I fully intended to come up with a story idea for a magazine--and I did. I also have a good essay topic for another publication, so I feel that my trip to Shallow City was not without reason. However, going to the call felt, in a word, ick--super ick, in fact.

When I walked into the agency, more than 40 babies and their parents were already crammed into the hot hallway. And more would follow. By the time we were called into the room, there were probably 200 babies stuffed in baby Bjorns, wearing their cutest frocks, squirming and cooing. Once in, we were interviewed, sized up and asked to leave five snapshots of our little ones. The other mothers were not particularly friendly and I had the distinct feeling that we were being scrutinized. How cute was my baby compared to theirs'? Who would be the 5 percent (the rate of clients picked up at these open calls) of babies who would be asked to join the agency? There were many varieties of baby: short, tall, chubby, lanky, blond, brunette, black, white, Asian. They were all cute, equally so. So, it was hard to tell how the agency would choose. Our interview was short. They took our photos and sent us on our way.

Afterwards, I was full of shame. How could I expose my child to a world where she would be judged on looks alone. Shouldn't I--queen of all things neurotic about my looks--know better. I felt drained and guilty, like a stage mother who pushed my daughter out of the sandbox and into the limelight. Was I channeling Patsy Ramsey? Shoving my own dreams onto my poor daughter who only wants to play ride the horsie and bang on some piano keys?

I had decided 100 percent that the world of baby modelling was not for us. And then the phone rang. "Hello, this is ****, we would like to sign Samara to the agency. We hope you will consider it." My morals? My resolve? They fled in the face of such riches. They want my daughter?! At $150 an hour! Sign us up!

But before I let my scruples slide for a few bucks, I reconsidered. Now I am faced with a dilemma: do I go for it? Do I let Samara earn some college money? Do I risk long, annoying days with no reward for the chance at fame and fortune for my little one? Now I am aware that the world of baby modelling is not exactly the same as the runways in Milan where models eschew Oreos for cigarettes and sandwiches for lines of blow. But I am also loathe to expose my eight-month-old to any world where she is judged for her looks alone. Do I really want my daughter's developing psyche to become so skewed? Do I want a "beautiful little fool"? The anwer is no. But how much damage can a little pre-3 modeling do? Especially if she could earn a good start on funding her college education? By the time she is in college, I fear it will be 100k to send her to a private school and I am already starting to stress. What's a little psyche damage compared to entering life unencumbered by debt?

On the other hand, what is the likelihood that she will earn enough to pay for college anyway? I just have to assume that 18 years from now, our financial picture will be such that tution will not be as big a deal as it seems now. Oh, decisions. How I hate you. I suppose we could give it a try. Maybe it will work. Maybe it won't. Maybe I will get an even better article out of it.


Editorgirl said...

Do it Sasha! She's too young to be affected by it now and it's a great way to start saving for her college - I know lots of people who do this and since you aren't exactly the Patsy Ramsey type I don't think you have a thing to worry about. Be proud - they liked your daughter best! Plus think about all the great stories you'll get of this for your freelance gigs!

g&c boyarko family said...

Seems harmless at this age...and does sound like a great way to earn some college $$. Congrats to S on landing the job :)!

Starbaby said...

My daughter started modeling at four months old and at five years old, she's outgoing and loving life. She had two national commercials running this year. Yes that industry can be crazy, but how you parent your child makes the difference. She has a nice nest egg for college and it can continue to grow. So I saw go for it. If you want to read about our experiences check out my blog, you have to go the archives to read about her go-sees and jobs. Good luck!

Kristi said...

This is a really tough decision. First, you're no Patsy Ramsey, and modeling is different from the beauty pageant circuit. I guess if it were me, it would depend on what kind of modeling they wanted my daughter to do, and the length of the contract you have to sign. I think, for all the reasons you cited (an industry that promotes looks above all else, the potentially long days of "work" for Samara that may affect her quality of life, etc.), I would opt not to do it. Then again, the money would be a fantastic addition to a college fund. It's a really tough choice. Good luck making the decision. There are so many factors to consider. I know you'll make the right one.