Becoming a teenager is an important life stage for kids. It’s a time when most teens want to be set free from the rules laid down by mum and dad and enjoy some independence. For many, taking on a part time job is a great way to strike out.
Whilst typical jobs for 14 year olds in the UK are limited to babysitting, car washing and a paper round, there are plenty of opportunities for young people interested in modelling.
There is high demand for healthy, happy teenage girls and boys to feature in catalogues, TV advertising and even fashion. Depending on how far you are prepared to travel and how often you are available for work, you can pick up more than just pocket money, earning anything from a few hundred pounds each year to a few thousand.
What makes a teen model?
Of course you will need to have a great look if you want to get into modelling; however you will need more than a pretty face to be successful. You will also need good clear skin, shiny hair, a healthy body, a positive attitude and confidence.
What does a teen model do?
The work of a teenage model can vary greatly depending on the assignment, however you can expect to spend quite a lot of time going along to castings (where models are ‘auditioned’ for jobs or to get signed by agencies).
Going to a casting does not guarantee you will get the job and you could be rejected several times before you get booked so it is important not to take it personally or feel too disappointed if you miss out sometimes.
If you are booked to model for a photo shoot or filming, you will most likely have your hair and make-up done before being given clothing and accessories to wear. You might be working in a studio or out on location. Either way, there are likely to be a few people around such as a photographer, director, stylist, assistant, client and maybe other models.
You will probably have to wait around for long periods of time whilst lighting is set up and props are arranged, and you may be asked to pose or say your lines over and over again until it’s perfect.
Catwalk models will also have hair and make-up done and outfits to put on, and will then be expected to walk up and down in front of an audience and show off the clothes you are given. You might need to change outfits several times. Modelling can be very tiring, but you will be able to take regular breaks.
Can my parent/guardian come with me?
It is essential to have the permission of a parent or legal guardian if you want to work as a model, and they will need to accompany you to castings and on jobs. Having the support of your family is also important when it comes to understanding the requirements of signing with a modelling agency, arranging time off school and paying for up front expenses including travel and accommodation costs, model agency fees and your portfolio.
Industry experts UK Models can offer advice on finding reputable agencies and help you create the professional portfolio of pictures you will need to take to castings.
Taking a parent or relative with you to all modelling commitments will guarantee your safety. Never attend a photoshoot alone or meet up with a person from the Internet that you do not know. Always discuss via professional channels i.e never communicate via social media platforms. Be open with your parents as their life experience and wisdom will guide you to accept the correct jobs.
The types of teen modelling jobs
Brands such as H&M, Marks & Spencers and Next all shoot campaigns to promote their latest designs for in store material, window displays, magazine ads and billboards. The images are aimed at a teen audience and are typically playful, fun poses. Fashion is a big contender yet other industries also need teens for marketing material.
Similarly, catalogue brands use teens to show how their designs fit or can be used (technical products). The catalogue usually covers the whole family with womenswear, menswear and kidswear sections. The poses will be natural and realistic to reflect their day to day life.
Teens have been known to walk for high fashion designers to much controversy; an issue that causes much disapproval. Shopping centres may host a fashion show, which will use teens to promote their the latest trends from teen retailers.
A lot of models are discovered in their teens
Recently there has been a boom in celebrity offspring turning to modelling. Having protection of parents and their carefully nurtured links over the years is definitely an advantage. Parents can guide their teen, knowing who to trust and work with.
Inheriting her supermodel mums genes Kaia has modelled for Teen Vogue, Pop Magazine and Paris Vogue. Gracing the runway for Marc Jacobs, the cover of LOVE Magazine and Vogue shot by Mario Testing (alongside Cindy) she is certainly set for stardom. Now her brother, Presley Walker Gerber has followed in her footsteps stepping out for Moschino and Dolce & Gabbana.
“Like her mother, Kaia has a very special gift. The camera really, really loves her. It was a special treat watching Kaia walk in her mother’s footsteps.” claimed Donatella Versace
Daughter of Oasis frontman, Noel Gallagher, has modelled for the likes of Teen Vogue, LOVE, Wonderland and Dull magazine. Her impressive repertoire boasts collaborations with Mulberry, Tommy Hilfiger, Reebok and YSL Beauty to name a few. The fresh, faced beauty is certainly making waves in the fashion world with her long, blonde locks.
Following in her sisters footsteps – Kate Moss – if you haven’t already guessed – Lottie is making a name for herself in the fashion industry. Scouted at her older siblings wedding, the teen has gone onto model for Calvin Klein, Bulgari and Vogue Paris.
With a supermodel for a mother and actress for a father it was only a matter of time before Lily-Rose began her career in the public eye. In her role as a Chanel ambassador she has modelled for their eyewear line as well as their new fragrance No 5 L’Eau. Featuring in a few films also her acting career is taking off also utilising both her parents connections yet proving her natural talent for the art forms.
Successful models who started in their teens
Discovered at a charity fashion show in 2005 at the age of 13, Karlie Kloss has carved a highly successful modelling career. With an extremely supportive family, Kloss was never in danger as either her parents, aunt, uncle or grandmother – and even her teacher – would accompany her to her modelling commitments.
Whilst shopping in the Hammersmith branch of Primark in 2005, a 15 year old Miss Dunn was discovered by a Storm model scout. She is now a famous supermodel who has graced the cover of countless magazines and walked in and endless amount of catwalk shows.
At 14, Moss was queuing at the JFK check-in when Storm founder Sarah Doukas spotted her. She is now one of the most famous supermodels in history with a career that has spanned just under 30 years.
Modelling demands maturity at a young age. Determination and hard work along with a professional attitude is required to be a successful teen model. Expectations are high in the modelling world with young hopefuls having to grow up quickly. Making a good first impression is vital to your success as even at a young age competition is high.
It is important to view your drive for modelling as a hobby until your education is complete. Never abandon your studies for a modelling opportunity. If the fashion career does not take off you will need for your qualifications to pursue another dream. Ensure you schedule modelling jobs in the holidays and at weekends to successfully balance both. Once you have finished your studies you can embrace your modelling career and see what opportunities arise. A good model agency and brand will understand your situation as they are familiar with working with teens. Many models are found at 14 and are given training, appropriate jobs around their school timetable. The support allows young talent to be ready after graduation.
Firstly make sure it’s a career path you want to take. Once your decision is made it is important to find experience to build your portfolio. At first you may have to accept voluntary work to gain valuable experience. Use these opportunities to your advantage to develop your modelling skills and only accept offers that enhance your CV.
Should teen models feature on the high fashion catwalk and in elite magazines?
As we have distinguished teen modelling is a legit niche within the fashion industry with talent featuring in campaigns targeted their age range. However, the controversy begins when teens from 13-15 grace the runway for top designers and front major fashion campaigns. The ultimate question is are they ready for such a pressure at such a young age thrust into an unknown world unprotected and vulnerable?
Top fashion houses such as Prada and Balenciaga have hired models as young as 13 to walk at fashion weeks and to front their latest campaign. The boyish, waif like image that most designers strive for puts pressure to find the unattainable figure that no woman can possibly sustain. Therefore, teens who can fulfil the brief are plucked from their everyday life putting an immense value on youth. Many have no experience of the industry or desire to pursue a modelling career until the scout hands them a business card. A very confusing message from brands aimed at women yet are modelled by innocent teens.
A bad reputation
Successful models who were scouted in their teenage years claim that the high fashion industry is no place for naive girls who cannot cope emotionally. Travelling to unknown countries alone with high expectations is overwhelming and intimidating for such young minds. The industry is asking for barely teens to survive in an adult world with little support.
For example 15 year old, Swiss-Croatian model, Valerija Sestic, walked 16 shows in 15 days at NYFW. A dream for many young hopefuls yet the reality is demanding, gruelling and very hard work for a teen. Long days, followed by the reality of fashion plus the pressure to impress is no easy task for adolescents.
Canadian model Coco Rocha states:
That Dior show
When Sofia Mechetner opened the Dior Haute Couture show at 14 wearing a sheer white dress exposing her chest many were horrified! The teen was far too young to be sexualised in such a way yet Paris does not adhere to the laws that England and America have put into place. The British Fashion Council and the Council of Fashion Designers of America have banned models under 16 on the catwalk – and rightly so.
The strive for everlasting youth
It is worrying that designers are using teen models to promote their womenswear lines. By twenty many models have reached retirement age with the demand for a fresh-faced, innocent look; a look in-between girlhood and womanhood. The designers need to take responsibility by exclusively hiring models over 18. It is their duty to reflect their audience rather than creating an unattainable, fantasy of everlasting youth.
Young, naive models are at risk with predators preying on their innocence. Working in a new city/country, with little protection and support the teens feel lost and insecure. Their limited life experience may lead to trusting the wrong person. It’s a scary world to be apart of at adolescence.
How to deal with criticism
Coping with rejection and harsh criticism is difficult for a self assured adult to digest never mind a 14 year old who is still in the process of figuring out their identity. It could have damaging results to a young mind who is not ready for the negativity and blow to their self esteem. In the high fashion world the swooping statements and harsh judgements are more severe with unrealistic ideals at play. The danger of eating disorders and teens desperately trying to loose weight is far too real.
Gisele Bundchen at 14 was told her nose was too big or her eyes were too small. After 42, yes 42, casting rejections Gisele was hired and her supermodel career has gone from strength to strength! Her story is one to remember for all the young, aspiring models out there. Everyone has a different opinion and ideas change constantly. Therefore, you may be out one minute and in the next. Try not to let their comments stick and believe in yourself.
Gisele Bundchen states: “I remember some people telling me my nose was too big or my eyes were too small, that I could never be on a magazine cover. It wasn’t easy to be 14 and hear that kind of criticism. It made me feel insecure.”