Parents of Child Models, Please Read...

I just got a message from a concerned reader on one of the sites I regularly write modeling content for and I was so disturbed by the nature of her message that I felt I needed to do a quick post. This particular person told me that she had a friend whose daughter is 6-years-old and an aspiring child model. Apparently, her mother had professional photos done, which included having her child in a bikini. First off, the word "child" and "bikini" should not be in the same sentence in my opinion. A little girl wearing a cute two-piece around friends and family is one thing but to photograph her is inappropriate to me, simply because of her age. To make matters worse, these bikini pictures are on Myspace and a number of other free social networking sites. I'm assuming they're up in order to increase her daughter's exposure and hopes of snagging an agent. The friend of the mother contacted me to ask what my thoughts were on the subject and if her concern was simply her being overprotective. Additionally, she added that the mother also listed the specific name of the town they live in on the profiles. It is a small town that only has one school, etc.

For all you parents of aspiring child models, I'll tell you like I told her: when it comes to children and the Internet, there is no such thing as being too overprotective. Any images of young girls in bikinis, no matter how cute or darling, are exactly the kind of images that pedophiles look for while online. Such images are not protected, which means anyone can right-click and save it for their own intentions. These kind of pictures should NEVER be posted online. 6-year-old child models--and kids in this age range in general--should always be photographed with clothes on and not showing any excessive skin. One-piece swimsuits are okay but even then, such innocent images are not seen that way by pedophiles. Kiddie porn is rampant and a booming business and believe me, you'd be surprised by how many sites do not have to look far to find what they know their audience wants. It's just wrong.

What's even more scary is that you have NO idea who is clicking and saving the pictures. There's no list that you can check to see what people are downloading. Aspiring child models should stick to modeling images that are very commercial and safe. There really is no need for your child model to be in a swimsuit unless it is something approved by your agent. If you are without agency representation for your child, stick to typical images of them in fun and colorful outfits--leave out the swimwear, boy or girl.

As far as listing the location of the actual city where you live, this is also a no-no. Instead of saying specifically where you are, list your location as the nearest large city. This is common practice in the industry anyway. For example, the town I live in is not that well known for most people outside of California so when it comes to my location, I simply say that I am in the San Francisco area. No harm, no foul.

Parents, be diligent about how you manage your child's modeling career--mainly if you do not have an agent. This is why I stress that parents get their child agency representation as soon as possible. They have the resources and the knowledge needed to know exactly how to market your child in a way that will not make them vulnerable to online sickos.

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