How to Become a Model at Age 12

By Gail Cohen
Take an active role in launching your modeling career.

If you can't miss a moment of Project Runway and TV shows that depict young women becoming supermodels, you probably dream of becoming one, too. Even if you're getting flak from your family -- probably because they think that at 12, you're too young for a career -- convince them that you're mature enough to take on this responsibility. Start by appealing to your folks in terms they'll understand. Promise to walk the dog, keep your room clean and your grades up, and stop picking fights with your siblings. That should go along way toward showing your parents that you're serious about your goal. As long as someone in the family has the time it will take to help launch your career, you can take an active role in making things happen, proving that at 12, you really are ready to make some adult decisions.

Read up on what young models are required to do to launch a modeling career and then discuss with your family members what will be required of them if you succeed. Let everyone know that you understand the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of being a model and convince them that you have considered important issues like being rejected after auditions and modeling calls so they know you've thought things out. Try to arrange for a visit to a photo shoot so you and your parent can get an idea of what's involved during a typical job. See if the atmosphere and tedium are to your liking. Talk with the young model on the shoot to get her feedback.

Help your parent(s) find a good photographer so you can have professional photos taken in a variety of clothing changes. You'll need full-body and head shots if an agent is to consider you for assignments. Take contemporary clothing to the shoot but nothing too over-the-top. After your photos are taken, ask the photographer if he or she can design your model's composite if you or your parents aren't comfortable enough with arranging digital photos on a page in a software program.

Search your local phone book and the Internet for modeling agencies that specialize in preteen clients. Make a list of questions before you start dialing. Find out what each agency is looking for, including ages, genders, types of assignments, and other pertinent details. Consult with your parents about the information you've gathered and decide which agencies seem the best bets for a visit. Let a parent make the appointment call so the agency knows they're on board.

Visit several modeling agencies with your parent(s) to get an idea of what you can expect in terms of management style, fees, and extra services. Ask if you can contact models around your age to get their take on what it's like to work for an agency. After each visit, talk with your mom or dad about the experience. Express your opinions about your comfort level and seek their guidance on the financial obligations that come with having an agent (the agent usually gets a percentage of the fee paid for each modeling job you get). Ask intelligent questions to show your maturity, a personality trait parents and agents look for when it comes time to make a decision about signing a contract.

Take responsibility for living up to the promises you made to your folks. Be patient and don't whine about dental appointments, grooming, haircuts, and other appointments that will be required of you so you look good all the time. Wear safety equipment and a helmet when engaging in sporting and other activities; one bad spill on a bike could put you out of commission for weeks until an injury heals. Remember that your success will come with a price: your daily schedule will be radically impacted by regular modeling calls, so you'll need to put your social schedule on a back burner frequently.

Be honest about sharing your feelings after you begin to get bookings. If you find that you're not suited to the profession at any point, do everyone a favor and let that be known. Staying in the profession just to please your parents will come back to haunt you and will ruin whatever fun you may have experienced thus far. Remember that if things get rough, it's OK to quit. You can always try again when you're older -- perhaps 15 -- when a career in modeling may be more suited to your personality and schedule.

Tip

Don't be fooled by ads directed at kids your age that promise to make you the next Giselle Bunchen. These ads are often scams that prey on kids and parents. Stick with reputable agents who can recommend classes to further your modeling career. You can also search the Internet and check with the Chamber of Commerce and Better Business Bureau in your community for information about the folks running the ads.

About the Author

Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.