Today's depressed economy is leading more parents to modeling and talent agencies – not for themselves, but for their kids, in the hopes that their looks can bring in some needed extra cash. Child models make as much as $125 an hour.
Modeling and talent agencies like Wilhelmina Kids and Teens in New York and Peak Models & Talent in Los Angeles say they have seen an increase in child applicants in the last few years, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Charles Winfield, the head booker at Funnyface Inc., in New York, says that his agency is getting more and more calls from parents who are unemployed.
Carol Stevenson, a public relations consultant from California, signed her three kids, aged nine to six, with Peak Models & Talent. She wants them to earn money for college. But with stiff competition and fewer jobs available, child modeling isn't a cash cow.
Stevenson says she paid approximately $1000 each for her kids' photo sessions, composite cards and photo prints. She has spent more on their modeling careers than they have brought in.
"Getting into this industry is so much more expensive than I expected," Stevenson said.
Then there are the emotional effects. Critics of child models argue that kids are too young to understand the inevitable rejection that comes with modeling. They may be cute at five or six, but nobody escapes adolescence.
"Children at a really young age have no idea of what is conceptually involved in this," Syd Brown, clinical and neuropsychologist in Bethesda, Md. Told the Wall Street Journal. "They don't know that if your body changes in the wrong way, you may not be wanted anymore."