Reader’s Question: My 13 year Old Cousin Has Been Scouted…What Should I Do?
My 13 year old cousin has been scouted. The agency won’t be doing anything with her ’til she’s 15 of course, but in the meantime she’s really, really keen. I’m happy for her but I’m also really concerned about the industry. What can I do?
Hello! 13 is so young, isn’t it. This is me when I was 13, and I can clearly remember not really knowing who I was, what I wanted to do and I certainly wouldn’t have felt comfortable in high fashion clothes in front of the camera!
Having said that, other models like Kelly Mittendorf do start at a young age and have bought a flat by the time their friends are doing GCSEs. It’s a real toughie, because I do think that modelling can give you incredible confidence-boosting and unique experiences – but it can also chew you up and spit you out at a very crucial developmental stage.
If she’s really keen to do it, then of course she must go for it when she’s 15 (I’d prefer 16 though). I think that over the next 2/3 years you need to help her:
- Understand diet and nutrition. If she’s not into cooking, get her making basic dishes you can make anywhere in the world, like roast chicken or quinoa and veggies. She’s gonna be thrust into this pool of food and exercise neuroses where only the strong manage to maintain a positive body image and attitude to food. The best way to empower her is to arm her with information about what foods keep you strong and healthy, and what exercises you can do on the floor of a tiny, shared model apartment!
- I would also add onto this that she’s 13 now, and her body is going to change. The agency won’t be expecting her to go in, at 15/16, with the same body she has now.
A photographer was telling me that a lot of her friends’ daughters had been scouted young and developed disordered eating, trying to maintain their tiny pre-adolescence physique from fear that the agency would reject them when they went in a couple of years. That’s not right – she needs to develop naturally during this time of change, or she could do real harm to her body.
- Put modelling out of her mind as much as possible. It’s fun, sure, but it’s not the be-all-and-end-all. She needs to focus on her education, because modelling won’t be a forever job and education is a necessary back-up. Have her thinking about alternative careers.
When she gets to 15, then I’d say a great thing for you to do is to go to the agency with her, meet her bookers, and maybe even accompany her on castings. Parents can be a bit of a downer, in the sense that it kind of ruins your look if you walk into a casting with your trendy outfit the agency has styled you with, but your Dad’s behind you with a duffel bag and a packed lunch for the two of you. But getting around London/cities is kind of scary and dangerous, so having a cool cousin like you accompanying her would be brilliant.
Finally, of course, I’d say to use Modeltypeface as a huge resource of information and support – she and you can feel free to ask any questions. It’s what I’m here for!
You have to be wary and prepared for her to be generally roughed up by the industry – all that rejection is tough. But with family support and a good education, I survived it OK and so can she…And she might have an amazing career full of incredible experiences. Modelling is an incredible opportunity – if you’re prepared.
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