Every so often the question from my daughter Mychael comes up, “Do I get to be a model now?”
The truth is I don’t know that there is a right or wrong answer to give her. My position is she has one job right now and that is to go to school, get good grades and be an awesome kid. That’s her number one priority and so far she’s rockin’ it. She has managed to become a confident, outgoing, smart, funny, caring, and well-rounded little girl despite growing up through some difficult circumstances. I feel I’ve managed to explain this pretty convincingly each time and I’ve noticed the conversation is becoming shorter and there seems to be more acceptance and understanding as she gets older.
In this society, let’s face it she’s got a few years (if that) before she is going to be bombarded with images and comparisons of what she is supposed to look/act/ be like. It’s hard enough to keep a positive self-image just walking the halls of Jr/High School without the pressures of setting an industry standard that you need to measure up to. (Another reason I’m beyond excited to have organizations like HNS, PUP, and Natural Models making huge strides to change the standards being set today)
I feel fortunate that Mychael is as secure as she is and has the confidence that she does. Perhaps she would be one of the few that hearing criticism about not being the right look, needing to lose weight, or fix a physical trait would just roll off her back without affecting her self-esteem. I just don’t think I could make that call for her. I know how one comment when you’re young and developing can drill down into your core, and I personally don’t want to be the one to set the stage in an industry I know is ready to dish it out. When she’s older and we can have that discussion, I’ll be there with a big foam finger and a t- shirt with her face on it, cheering her on!
So for now Mychael will play softball and when the season is over it will be back to Dance. She’s got her heart set on Singing Lessons and would LOVE to start up Horseback Riding (because that’s inexpensive!). There are so many avenues for her to express herself, grow and learn. She’s going to find out soon enough how focused the world is on superficial beauty, and that not everyone thinks she’s the most amazing thing since sliced bread. And when that day comes I want her to have a foundation built strong with love, acceptance, humor, and an understanding that she is awesome even if everyone doesn’t agree. If I can do that, then she can model to her hearts content…while she goes to college of course.