- Having the intense reality of a dream.
That is how this feels. One moment you’re sitting there thinking your normal thoughts; I need to do the dishes, pay the bills, go grocery shopping then it will hit you: my daughter may become one of the worlds top fashion models. It takes your breath away. How do you balance your normal everyday life with something so huge and life changing? Every dream that Beth has ever had could become reality. She may get to travel the world, meet top fashion designers, play dress up and get paid for it. She could work for several years then never need to work again. She may be able to pay for college without the daunting task of negotiating student aid. Or it could be a short lived, fun experience that doesn’t go any further, who really knows.
What we do know is we had a great time in St. Louis. We decided that we really like taking short family trips to new cities and exploring. The kids have started putting tacks in a state map marking all the cities and states that they have visited. It’s become a competition to see who has more locations. Then one of those thoughts will pop into my head and I’ll think, oh Beth may need to start using the world map and there is no way her brothers will be able to keep up. Except Thomas declares that he will go with Beth on her photo shoots and you know it’s just so she doesn’t get ahead on the map challenge, (or I guess it could be due to the company that she’ll be keeping.)
After all our site seeing was done we got to the real reason we were in St Louis; Beth’s preliminary photo shoot. We all were nervous not knowing what to expect. Meeting with Mary and Jeff the night before at dinner really helped. They were so friendly and silly it helped put Beth (and the rest of us) at ease. Some of our questions were answered; what do we do with Beth’s hair? wash it and let it air dry there will be a hair designer there to do it. What about make up (Beth doesn’t really wear any?) no make up they want a clean face. How will she know what to do for the poses? the photographer is great and very gentle and he’ll guide her (he did and Beth loved him.)
The photo shoot was done in the photographer’s apartment/ studio, a very cool downtown brick high-rise. Very trendy and artsy feeling but also sparsely decorated with only one small couch, that Thomas sat down on then never moved from for the 4.5 hours we were there, leaving the rest of us to stand around observing the recreation of Beth.
From tall, skinny, gawky girl into a beautiful young lady that could have been posing for a magazine spread right then. When she walked in front of the photographer in her first outfit she was obviously nervous, not knowing how to stand or what to do with her arms and legs. But after a few minutes of quiet guidance she was relaxed and focused. In the open room was Dan, Thomas and me plus Mary and Jeff the agents, the photographer, hair designer and later 2 other people. There was a lot of activity and conversations that Beth had to block out. And besides a couple times when I made her laugh (note to self don’t joke around Beth when she’s trying to be serious and focused) she did a fabulous job. While I thought she looked shaky holding some of the impossible poses, the photographer said she did a great job and that she followed his directions very well. As I watched her I couldn’t help but think that yoga would be beneficial for her. To help with staying calm and focused and also to develop the strength needed to hold the awkward positions that are required. So that is on my list of things to check into.
While Beth was being prepped, primped and photographed we had an abundance of time to talk to the people that we’ll be so intimately involved with over the next few years. Mary and Jeff are both such easy people to talk to. Jeff is the detail person that stays on top of everything that needs to be done, 24 hours a day, since they have models all over the world. While Mary is the artistic one that paints us a picture of what we can expect. An idea will come to her and she’ll throw it out to Jeff who will agree or fine tune it to something that you believe will happen. One of the most surreal moments of the day was when Mary asked how we felt about Europe because that may be a good place to get Beth started. Up until now the talk had been all about New York but it’s all about “new faces” and Europe can be a good place to gain some experience. And how does one answer that question, how do you feel about Europe? “Umm, how soon can we leave?”
The other thing that felt like a dream was the talk of homeschooling. We have homeschooled since the kids first learned to walk pausing only recently when they chose to try high school. But before any of this modeling had come into play Beth had been considering returning to homeschooling next year. After 2 years in an actual high school she felt that she had experienced enough. There were never enough hours in the day for her to follow her artistic interests or her volunteer ambitions or just time to relax and wait for creativity to happen. This has been something that has been weighing on her and something that we have been strongly considering. We have talked to her teachers (who have been wonderful with considering other options for Beth,) the college that she plans to attend and friends and family. But what was very delicately presented to us (without trying to tell us what we should or shouldn’t do) was that Beth homeschooling next year would open up opportunities that are not available to the girls that have the rigors of a school schedule hindering them. Which is why, when you look through the pages of Vogue you see so many international models. American schools do not give the flexibility needed to pursue this type of life. We will wait for the last possible moment to make our official decision for next year but our unofficial status, that is being presented to agencies, is that we are homeschoolers with a very flexible schedule and a parent willing to travel with Beth at any time. Hmm what will happen to Thomas when his mom and sister leave him behind?
The type of models that MMM (Mother Model Management) represents is: Fashion/Runway/Editorial Modeling: This is all about selling and showcasing the latest clothes and trends in the fashion world. Models in these fields are required to be very tall, very slim, and often possess facial features that are unique. MMM represents girls that they believe can be the top models in the world, the next supermodels. They are very selective about who they represent. They purposely stay a small, personal management company that has the flexibility to travel with the girls when needed and build relationships with their models. And they’re really excited about Beth and think that she’s got what it takes to do this.
Little things we learned about Beth: she has a beautiful neck, she has beautiful lips, her face is a combination of Dan and me, she has a cute, little tush that we hadn’t noticed before (my observation,) her skin is like porcelain, her hair may not actually be a weird crinkly texture- it may just be the (organic, non-chemical, and drying) shampoo that I’ve been buying, the slightly dark circles under her eyes are appealing.
Little things we are now aware of; do not wax Beth’s eye brows, let them be fuller and natural (except maybe the uni-brow part, but don’t pluck too much) don’t cut or alter her hair at all until in NY and someone there wants to change it, don’t get tan while in North Carolina this summer, don’t get any type of visible braces. Do get our passports right away.
Little things we learned about modeling: Beth always has the right to say no to any type of clothing or shoot, she does not ever have to pose in any type of nudity (no matter how artistic the photographer thinks it is) unless she is comfortable with it (and it will not hurt her career to say no,) she does not have to pose wearing fur or smoking or with alcohol. Sometimes (infrequently) the designers will let the girls keep the clothes or shoes. When traveling you will stay in model apartments set up by the agencies or if those are full then you may sublet an actual model’s apartment, you have to pay for this through an advance that the agencies will give you, you pay for your own airfare, Jeff sets up all the traveling so I don’t have to (yeah!)
As for the money: you’re not always making a lot of money- sometimes you just cover your expenses (at least that’s how it sounded to me.) The spreads you see in magazines are called editorials. These are great for getting your face out there but not great for making money. You may only get paid $300 for an editorial but it may lead to future photo shoots or even exclusives. If you’re hired as an exclusive model, you only work for that designer and you get paid a lot more. During fashion week if you get an exclusive contract then you only walk for one designer. Fashion week happens in Feb-March and again in Sept-Oct. You could start in NY then go London, Milan and finally Paris. There is some overlap between shows so you may not make it to all of them. It sounds to me like 40 days of craziness.
This is the start of our journey into the confusing world of fashion modeling and it is most definitely surreal!