No Sale. My Flirt With Baby Modelling

I have two beautiful daughters. My youngest is just over six months old. Everyone who sees her asks if we’ve considered getting her into baby modelling. So after hearing the suggestion countless times, we decided to give it a try.

My wife and I are both creatives, as anyone who reads my rare occasional posts will know. Naturally we want our little one to be creative as well. (In my reoccurring nightmare I award her a bonus for finding me a new tax loophole).

The decision: I guess a part of us hoped that baby modelling would act as an introduction to the creative industries. In reality that makes no sense, as she’d be unlikely to remember any of it by the time she’s old enough to make any career decisions…unless of course we had her modelling for many years, which I fear would require the kind of selfish tenacity that is a little too close to pageant-parenting for me to stomach.

We also hid our now apparent selfishness behind the old chestnut of “the money going towards her future.” I think in reality we thought it could be interesting [for us] and we’d get some nice photographs of her for FREE.

So we sent an email with some pics to one of the most reputable agencies in Denmark. The very next morning (yes, those words were typed with a little smugness) they replied asking us to bring her in with a ‘selection of on-trend outfits’…okay (???).

Before I go on, let’s explore that smugness a little: what is it based on? My daughter’s beauty. How superficial is that?

In all objectivity, (as objective as a parent can be about their offspring) she’s bright and very advanced for her age. I think she’s going to do great things. But in the context of this agency’s eager response, I can only really be smug about her looks. They haven’t replied with haste because of her motor, social, speech and cognitive abilities…they just think she looks cute. And I, being a dad who hopes to bring his daughter up to value more than just looks, laps it up. Hmm.

Anyway, we arrive for our appointment at their surprisingly small but beautiful office, and something instantly feels weird.

Staff members come up to her and interact in a way that feels…well, odd. Maybe I’m looking for it, in reaction to my uneasy feeling, but they seem to be eyeing her up, much like how I imagine a car salesman examines a new saloon.

Not that it is at the fore. No, it’s tucked safely behind the usual oohs and aahs and the odd “I think she looks more like you.” But nevertheless it’s there – in their prolonged stares. They’re watching her; seeing how she behaves – taking mental notes.

One over-caffeinated woman comes over and ruffles her hair, in a manner that’s more ‘Vidal Sassoon’ than “aren’t you cute”. By now we’re already feeling weird about the whole thing. We don’t say it. The office is too small for discretion, but we can sense it on each other, the way people who’ve lived together for years can.

After some minutes, we’re introduced to the owner and told to lay out the clothing on a table – a table small enough to take only five items. My wife has chosen about 23. She precariously arranges her overlaid selections and we wait – for what we assume will be an in-house style guru. I imagine him tutting, while pulling out knitwear from behind squinted eyes and jazz hands, as a pubescent intern mops sweat from his glistening brow.

In fact, the owner simply returns, chooses a top and bottoms and hands them over, asking us to dress her. We do and wait.

Some more minutes later, we’re invited into a broom cupboard of a room. Without warning another chirpy young employee pulls out a brush and proceeds to apply blusher to my presently five and a half month old daughter. “Are you having a laugh?” I ask. In times of anger, my mind’s voice clicks into either business English, cockney or Jamaican Patois. Today is cockney.

I say mind’s voice because I actually say nothing. We sit there and let this woman put adult makeup on our daughter. I assume it’s adult, as I don’t think Max Factor has a line for the under 1s yet…

“Time waits for no one. But you can press pause on your baby’s youthful appearance with…”

I digress. Looking back, I can only put our silence down to shock and sheer disbelief. It’s over before we have a chance to snap out of it. Perhaps our faces object on our mind’s behalf, as she applies only two light and very timid brush strokes, before sheepishly inviting us back to the waiting area.

After some more waiting and height measuring, we’re asked into the studio (a bigger cupboard). Well my wife is asked, as only one parent can go in. I collect the surplus clothing and leave to sit in the car.

Ten or so minutes later my wife returns – daughter in hand. She looks at me and we almost simultaneously say we’re not letting our little girl do it. My wife tells me that the co-owner/photographer said they want her on their books, but warned that we needed to work on getting her to sit still and that she stares too much. (???)

So what did the experience teach me?

I think my strongest feeling was one of disgust and compromise. I felt as though I’d stuck a barcode on my daughter, given her over as a product, and in so doing, had erased some of the tacit rules of engagement that I expect of those who interact with her. I had given these complete strangers the authority to pass judgement on my daughter. Judgements and actions that wouldn’t be appropriate in any other scenario. And all in exchange for money. Put simply, I felt like I’d pimped her out.

Would I advise you to avoid it?

No. At the end of the day, I doubt that the above account is a typical experience. Perhaps they need to refer back to their manual. Perhaps we’re over sensitive. Who knows? No, I’d say try it, but be brutally honest about your reasons before going, and don’t allow those reasons to cloud your judgement when you’re there.

Returning to my reasons, I think I’d have to add that a small part of me thinks my girl is incredible, and liked the idea of other people seeing it too.

Hmm. That sound is me swallowing a very bitter pill.

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Image courtesy of nymag.com

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Why Copywriting Is Like a Mattress

Had these lines swirling around my head for months. Finally found time to put them down.

Share if you like it.

Image courtesy of my wife, aka ClaudiaJR Photography.

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A Beard Isn’t Just For Christmas?

Proof that my beard predates this hipster fad.

Musings of a Serial Procrastinator

So our big day is fast approaching. Within a matter of weeks I will be a happily married man. As you can probably imagine, every last detail is covered; Outfits bought, flowers chosen, first dance song selected. There is however one last detail that is troubling me…facial hair! To shave or not shave?

I’ve been sporting my jaw hair for about 6 months now, and am currently standing at a crossroads. You see there are times in every man’s life when you have to make decisions –decisions that define your manhood. One of those is the ‘do I keep my beard?’ decision. Think about it, we all know which way Sean Connery, Isaac Hayes, Abraham Lincoln and the short fat guy from ‘The Hangover’ went. And in so doing their beards have become their ‘thing.’ I mean can you imagine the KFC Colonel without his white cartoon goatee? No, me…

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Does too much of the outside, kill how we see inside?

Memory is elastic. It’s been proven that our recollections aren’t finite recordings and snapshots from the past, but storylines that we edit subconsciously. With enough time, our minds can turn a negative occurrence into a not so bitter aftertaste. Our brain can even erase the whole thing entirely. Studies have shown people creating complete fabrication, in reaction to the introduction of influencers. I’m given a fake photograph showing me fishing with my father, and my brain creates its backstory.

Regardless of the decisions of our inner editor, the vast majority of us don’t even realise the tape has hit the cutting room floor. We believe. After all the ‘memory’ is our own, so why wouldn’t we?

I believe a good creative writer has to be able to connect with the reader’s inner editor. Giving them just enough information to lead them along the plot’s pathway, but also enough space to allow their imaginations to fill the gaps. Because the more creative flesh we’re allowed to apply to a story’s skeleton, the more invested we become in it. The story in fact becomes our own. And so we believe.

A friend of mine has created a Facebook page for his son, pretty much from birth. He fills it with tagged statuses, notes, pictures and videos. I think its an admirable and sweet paternal effort, but I worry about what this notion’s inevitable progression will produce.

Google Glass is already out there, albeit for now on the slightly ‘too-far’ out there periphery. The purpose for which it was created however seems to have already seeded. Its purpose? Record everything, because nothing should be missed, everything should be shared and because, well…we can. But if in half a century’s time or so it’s common and acceptable to record everything – every last moment from cradle to grave, then surely won’t we lose those gaps – those grey areas that train our creativity? Won’t our innate ability to tell stories slowly become myth?

I don’t know. Perhaps I’ve watched too much sci-fi recently. Perhaps the power of storytelling is too embedded in our psyches to ever die. As a lover of stories and a teller too, I hope so.

Read a chapter excerpt from my debut here

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Google Glass. Image courtesy of wikipedia.

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Stepping Back From The Keyhole

Musings of a Serial Procrastinator

I had the weirdest experience last week on the way home from work, no not breaking down again. This was less common than running out of fuel. This is so strange I’m not entirely sure whether I should post this, in fact this is probably the only time I’m hoping I DON’T get pressed!

I was driving and thinking as I do, when I had an epiphany (or delusion, you decide.) that my body was merely a frame and that I exist within the frame and not within the world outside it. My body exists within the world outside, but I exist only within my body. And that everything I call life is merely experienced via interactions with this frame. Does that make any sense? I for maybe a part of a second kind of went inside myself and felt a surge of panic ladened claustrophobia. I was trying to…

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How Did It Come To This?!!

Musings of a Serial Procrastinator

I’m not sure how it happened. I am riddled with disgust and self-loathing. I’ve compromised my standards; the standards my parents inculcated in me, as a young black boy growing up in the ghetto that is Upper Sydenham. It hurts me to write this, but I Sean J. Rankine have become…(deep breath)

one of those guys at the gym, who make noises when pushing weights.

I hate myself! Thankfully, I haven’t yet become the guy who gets up between each set of ten, walks over to the mirror and inspects the girth of the muscle group he is working. I don’t as yet walk as though I have had melons surgically implanted within each armpit. I don’t yet conclude all exercises with loud, and slightly camp “Wooooo!”

I do, however now conclude the last few lifts of the hardest sets with a low, but still audible hiss, which sometimes…

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Writing My Way Towards Change

Just another quick reblog for the new followers.

Musings of a Serial Procrastinator

Wifey says that since taking my writing more seriously, I’ve become more aware; both of self and the myriad of things that happen around me.  She’s right of course. (she always is!) Writing can turn a simple conversation into a piece of dialogue for your protagonist.  Elaborate imagery laden set pieces can start life as the almost unnoticed thoughts, that happen to accompany you on your Sunday afternoon walk in the woods.  Everything seen, touched, heard, smelt or tasted can make it into your writing.  Everything is an opportunity!

This inevitably turns you into a bit of a thinker.  No not Plato necessarily, but just someone who looks at things from different perspectives – someone who notices subtext or irony in the plainest everyday occurrences.

I read a study claiming that writing sped up the healing process of those suffering from curable cancers.  I doubt it is the actual process of tapping on…

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