Claire has an agent. She goes on auditions. She earned her first paycheck for a commercial for the NFL.
The backstory is that my husband, George, is an actor. Our friend Jerry is a casting agent. He recommended Claire to an agent. The NFL job was her first audition. Out of a cattle call of 100 babies, my baby booked the job. The shoot for the commercial was a blast. If you watch closely to the final spot, Claire's has the money shot at the end, thus, confirming her star potential. Her grandmas were excited to email the video to everyone they knew. Of course, I was proud too. I didn't balk at the cash added to the college fund either. It was a great experience all around.
Those of you who know me surely realize that I can't be writing about this subject to just fawn on and on. You must know that I'm experiencing a chink in the works somehow.
Here's the thing. When Claire did the commercial, she had just turned one. She didn't even know what was going on. Now that she older…Can anyone say "Toddlers and Tiaras"…."Dance Moms"?
I wonder about the message I'm sending my daughter. I worry about rejection at a tender age. I ponder its effects on her unformed ego. I don't want her to have to deal with the adult pressures of work. I don't want her to have to perform on cue for a professional industry known to chew up and spit out heartier folk than my innocent babe in arms. I don't want to emphasize physical appearance, teach my daughter that self-esteem is based on the superficial, or show her that she can use her looks to sell product.
Yet, my husband has a very different opinion than me. He believes that being in the industry works to demystify the industry. He thinks that Claire will be like Dorothy in the Great Oz. The curtain will be drawn back to reveal the ordinary. The artificial air of glamour and power will be removed, along with rose-colored glasses. She will have the opportunity to see television and advertising for what they really are -- illusions. Or, to put it simply, that a camera is just a camera.
He also envisions a world full of options for Claire. He see himself opening doors of opportunity for her, for which many people would give their eye teeth. I am intent on unceremoniously closing them. He thinks that having the experience now will serve her well should she want to be an actress as an adult.
That's a big "if" to me. What about doctor, lawyer, or candlestick maker? Of course, she could get practice playing one of these things on television too. It worked for Doogie Howser. Still, while I find some of his arguments compelling, I'm just not convinced. In fact, the more I write about it here, the less I want my child to spend any time in front of the camera in a professional capacity.
Yet, I'm trying to be open-minded. I don't want to make a definitive decision before giving my husband's viewpoint serious consideration. I am a member of a partnership. I can't just make unilateral decisions now. We get equal say in how our daughter is raised.
Generally, when George and I have different opinions, we rely on objective research to tip the scales to one side or another. But when I googled "long-term effects of child modeling" and similar terms, I didn't find any research in scholarly journals or advice from expert psychologists (other than the opinion of one psychologist that Sally Mann's kids are well-adjusted).
So dear readers, I know that you are not short on opinions. What do you think about child acting/modeling? What do you do when you and your spouse have polar opposite opinions? Am I attempting to control my child's life or protect her from its dark side? Do I have legitimate concerns here or am I just being a worry-wart? I could really use some advice…
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