Summer’s in the air, and you might be thinking that the vacation your kids are getting from the taunting jerks they go to school with might be making life too easy for them. Luckily, Modeling Camp, available in eight cities nationwide, is an expensive, soul-crushing solution.
From the New York Daily News: “Modeling Camp KIDS owner Heather Cole said she expanded the program to the elementary school kids because of overwhelming demand. ‘We have had so many calls from [terrible] parents of younger girls wanting … to explore modeling and fashion.'”
Cole, a former model, started her camp in 1995, which is described as “a ‘boot camp’ style program instructing girls in modeling and fashion,” according to the Modeling Camp website. In a New York magazine article last year, Cole said she attributes the surge of interest in modeling to the popularity of the reality show America’s Next Top Model.
Cole makes sure her curriculum caters to that glamorous image.
“Warnings about the darker side of modeling—eating disorders, drug abuse, photographers who urge girls to take their clothes off—are not included in the curriculum,” Rebecca Mead wrote for the New Yorker in 2012. “In one session, a nutritionist gave advice on healthy eating. ‘We learned about the four parts of the plate: a protein, dairy from a drink, vegetables and fruits, and grain,’ a camper named Amanda Anderson (fourteen; five-seven) explained.”
Dairy comes from a drink? Sounds a lot like, “Kiss cheese goodbye, fatty.”
The modeling world is ruthless, and if the camp offers a realistic look at it, your child will likely be traumatized. If, on the other hand, the camp paints a falsely rosy picture about what it takes to be a model, it’s a sham and you’re wasting your money.
And not only is modeling camp irritating because they’re in business to give a lot of girls the false hope that they can be models and help destroy their self-esteem, also because it’s very expensive.
Nonrefundable $350 deposits toward the total $999 fee are required in advance for the four days of instruction, and parents have to secure campers’ lodging and take them to and from the camp every day (no StarvationMobile model bus or anything!). And what a fun vacation for you, hemorrhaging cash to stay in a hotel and carting your kid to and fro every day while she or he cries about having a bad nose every night and curses you for not making him or her taller.
Perhaps to deflect any criticism that Modeling Camp doesn’t care about kids, there is a “Camp Mall” on its website, where they hawk an outlandishly overpriced, crappy makeup kit for $85 and nylon tote bags with their logos on them. On the Modeling Camp registration page, these items are referred to as “optional camp supplies,” and parents are encouraged to preorder them for campers “to avoid disappointment.”
“It can be very daunting as a parent to know where to go, who to trust and how to get their child in to this business,” Cole told the New York Daily News. “Anything we can do to assist in this process we are glad to do.”
It’s not actually daunting to any parent who knows how to operate Google, however.
You want to know how to get your kid into modeling? Take two Polaroids, one of your kid’s face and one full-body shot, and mail them to modeling agencies. THAT’S ALL YOU NEED TO DO! REALLY! If your spawn is alienlike, photogenic and freakishly tall, believe me, they’ll get in touch.
Admittedly, many kids have a delightful experience at modeling camp.
They learn how to strut around confidently, some say, so what’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with that is that you’re encouraging your child to want nothing more out of life than to be a mannequin. You’re telling a second grader, in some cases, that looks are incredibly important. Don’t they get that message often enough without attending a camp devoted to the idea?
I’m not saying that models are terrible people and that no one should do it. If you have what it takes, it can be a fantastic way to make money when you’re just starting out in life. But then you have to figure out something else to do, and that’s where other interests and talents you’ve developed come in. Childhood is a great time to explore interests in things that are more enriching than standing around looking good in clothes. If kids are at modeling camp, they’re not doing that.
But what if your child really, really wants to go to modeling camp, and you just want to make him or her happy? You are the parent, and you need to say no. Because it’s stupid. You don’t want to raise a looks-obsessed douchebag, do you? I didn’t think so.
Also, before you lay down a few bills for the deposit, watch this:
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.