The Only Thing Your Kid Will Get Out Of The Modeling Camp Scam Is A Body Complex So Don’t Bother

camp-for-child-modelsI am sure that there will be tons of bland, expensive summer camps for all of us to choose from soon, but there’s at least one that I’m glad I will always be able to stay away from. Modeling Camp.

Modeling Camp has been a thing for awhile now, but it wasn’t until recently that Model Camp owner Heather Cole added the camp for kids ages 8-11 so that tweens can experience the joys of crushing body dysmorphia and rejection too.

The program presents itself as “age appropriate”, but there’s definitely the squicky undertones of making sure that the younger girls learn to suppress their inner fatty on the NYC advert for the camp:

“Even our younger campers should understand about eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. Campers learn about health and nutrition and have their own personal ‘yoga divas’ session with camp nutritionist Cori Cohen.”

On the surface, who could argue with teaching kids about health and nutrition? Not me, certainly, though my own inner fatty had a nutritious breakfast of one cookie and a handful of pretzels this morning.

Unfortunately, the entire thing strikes me as disingenuous. There are an awful lot of problems in the modelling world, especially among minors. No matter how “empowering” the camp claims to be, there is always the seedy reality lurking nearby; eating disorders, exploitation, and creepy old dudes.

But you could definitely argue that Modeling Camp doesn’t need to take all of this on, right? Modeling Camp doesn’t want to tackle the broader issues, it wants to make money, which is a perfectly reasonable goal, and brings me to the other reason my own kid won’t be attending, besides the fact that it would offer my kid a perfect opportunity to learn “poise and grace” (ew) in a Manhattan Radisson hotel conference room; the fact that it claims to be much more than it is.

The carrot at the end of the thigh gap stick is the chance for girls to meet with modeling agents at the end of four whole days of training, whereupon, the advertisement practically screams,

“Your child could walk away with a modeling contract!”

No, they won’t. There is a little inset with adorable 10-year-old Irina, who is pleased to announce that after coming to Modeling Camp for four years, which makes for some dicey math, gets plenty of print work, but she is the lone success story.

Over at the Daily Mail former model, the founder of Model Alliance, and all around badass Sarah Ziff agrees:

“‘Eight- to 11-year-old girls should be developing themselves in other ways than focusing on their appearance,’ she added, recommending a dance class or joining a sports team for kids so young. ‘You don’t need to go to modeling school or camp to become a model,’ she says.”

It’s extremely unlikely that kids are going to walk away with this with a lucrative contract. Which is also fine, if you want to pay a bunch of money for your child to learn how to count calories just for the useful life skill that teaches. Oh, and of course, the friends they’re sure to never talk to again after four days. But the fact is, if you’re child’s dream is to be a model, and you aren’t a crotchety monster like me and actually allow your kid to follow that dream, you don’t need to shell out a bunch of money for Modeling Camp.

Here in Austin, I have a friend who acted as an agent for younger kids, and she explained the process to me once: you get head shots and a flipper if your kid has weird teeth, and then they are either cute enough to get work or “not what we’re looking for”. End of story. There aren’t enough cardboard catwalks taped to conference room floors to make it happen any other way.

Personally, I wouldn’t send my kid to any modeling camp, but that’s an extremely easy judgment call to make because she just isn’t interested. If she were, I’d have to reconsider, but I don’t think I would ever present it to her as something other than a fun way to waste a few days. I definitely wouldn’t sell it to her as a chance to walk away with a modeling contract.

(Image: Olena Zaskochenko/ Shutterstock)

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