Edit Module
Edit Module
Edit Module
Edit Module
Edit Module

Notes From a Former Child Model

Our senior editor shares insights from her time in the spotlight.

The author modeling as a child
The author, age 4, on the job for Little Tikes. Photos: Courtesy of Lauren Williamson

Every model has her vice. Mine was M&M’s. Stuffed into plastic trains. Overflowing from miniature kitchen sinks. Bowls of them, everywhere I turned. But you have to keep kids incentivized at a shoot — and, in the ’80s at least, hiding candy-coated sugar bombs throughout the set was the way to do it.

Between the ages of 3 and 5, I ate a lot of M&M’s while posing for Little Tikes toy boxes, J.C. Penney catalogs, newspaper ads for Popples stuffed animals, and propaganda from the North American Blueberry Council. I was one of the top child models in Cleveland — which, yeah, I know the joke you want to make.

Several times a month, my parents would get the call to head downtown right now with a go bag full of pink foam hair rollers, always-polished saddle shoes, and dresses with starched Peter Pan collars. I’d demonstrate how precocious I was by reciting the ABCs backward and telling grown men that their names sounded like characters from Winnie-the-Pooh.

The author modeling as a child
Rinsing a bowl of M&Ms

I’d almost always get the job, because I was so well behaved. But I had my diva moments, like when I didn’t want to put on the glasses at a shoot for Sears Optical. Or the time I was supposed to act sick for an ad about a hospital’s strep care but insisted on dancing around like the happy, germ-free kids surrounding me. Eventually, I nailed the shot with an appropriately miserable expression. Turns out I actually had strep — the symptoms were only just kicking in. A Method actor to the core.

Kindergarten came along, and I had a choice to make: school or continued Rust Belt stardom. So I said goodbye to the modeling world. But with a going rate of $60 an hour, I still walked away with enough money to pay a chunk of the tuition for my first year of college. Which is why I don’t begrudge my mom and dad one bit for involving me in this peculiar industry. On the contrary, I think about all the toy cars, footie pajamas, and M&M’s that could have been mine, if only I’d had stage parents.

Edit Module

Share

Edit Module

Advertisement

Edit Module
Submit your comment

Comments are moderated. We review them in an effort to remove foul language, commercial messages, abuse, and irrelevancies.

Edit Module