The Four Fs
Over the past few years there have been fewer and fewer new teen girls, ages 13 to 17, entering the pretty girl website business. Many that do enter are not of the same quality or talent level as a decade ago, or are as dedicated to looking awesome in pictures as in years past, or very importantly, stay in the business near as long as the old days.
I'm not referring only to my business at TrueTeenBabes in it's last couple of years, but overall across the non-nude teen model scene and often extending into the solo model website projects done by other companies with models 18, 19 or 20 years old.
I've talked to other photographers and webmasters by email or telephone hours and hours every single week of the past 10 years and those that have been around more than a year or two all speak of the same issues. I listen to their stories and hassles and give my thoughts. They listen to my stories and hassles and send me their thoughts. In the end I think I have it boiled down to a strange combination of converging worlds, interests, goals and jealousies.
The Four Fs - Facebook, Family, Friends and Fans
In the fall of 2000 when TrueTeenBabes was in the planning stages finding models was of very little concern. Pretty girls always love have their picture taken.
Going back decades before the Internet came along the parents of teen girls would often spend thousands of dollars enrolling the girl in modeling school, even when the girl might not be as tall as most fashion agencies require, or have that special look of a super model. All in the hope of their daughter being paid to have her picture taken.
Knowing that for a little website showing off the smiles and curves of teenage girls I wouldn't need tall models, or a certain walk, or extra high cheek bones, I simply wasn't concerned. I knew from experience in the pretty girl picture business that once we located the first few girls to be models others would come along.
Friends tell friends, ex-boyfriends tell their latest girlfriend and she wants to do it just to prove she is hotter than his ex-girlfriend, sisters tell sisters and on holidays all the cousins get to see pictures and want to be involved, which leads to more girls applying. That is just how it had always been, how I expected it to be, and in truth how it worked out those first eight years.
Back at that time finding girls to be in front of the camera for this type of work was never a concern and having them want to come back for second or third photo shoots was never a concern. The plan was simple; make it fun, make it feel like they are doing the same thing the models do on TV by having a pro studio and make-up helpers around, and pay them a decent wage so they have incentive to do their best.
Finding girls for the first year of TrueTeenBabes cost about $50 and roughly 10-12 hours of easy labor on a single weekend.
Step one was to create a very simple website with a few sample photos and a form girls could use to submit information. Back then it was easy to get listed in search engines such as Yahoo, Excite, Lycos and AltaVista and that brought along our first applicants from outside the Denver area.
Step two was to create a small post card that we could hand out to cute teen girls that might be interested. It cost about $25 to have printed and wasn't anything fancy. I don't have a copy of it today but it was very similar to this one we used more recently.
Step three was to prepare an information packet that could be given to models and mothers as soon as they ask. The packet explained the project, the need for new models on a regular basis, the pay rates, the permission forms and a bit more. Very direct, clear and open so there was not any confusion.
Step four, the last and most important step, was to get the word out. We did it all in one day and it was simple - go the where the cute girls are.
I had an attractive helper named Michelle, age 22, at the time. It would be easy for her to chat with teen girls so we made a plan for one Saturday in late November.
First, to the office and an hour or so of sending email and links to girls online through various websites.
Next stop, the Denver Coliseum where they were having the State High School Cheerleading Championship. For those unaware, cheerleading in many areas is now a competitive sport much like gymnastics with routines practiced for weeks, performances in front of critical judges, and championships awarded in many classes or divisions.
What better place to look for a few girls in great shape that take good care of themselves and have confidence?
At such an event I wouldn't ask Michelle to pass out the cards to every girl that walked by. If we did that it feels like a normal advertisement and be trashed. The idea was to pick out just a few of those that seemed best suited for the work. During the 60-90 minutes we stayed at the event we likely walked past 400-500 cute teenage girls but I'm guessing we only passed out 6-8 cards.
Looking back and digging into the memory banks it seems that 48 of the 55 girls hired to work as models in the first year of TrueTeenBabes can be traced back to that day in November 2000.
Most of us have heard about the silly game "The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" in which many, many Hollywood personalities or events can be traced loosely back to Kevin Bacon.
In the case of early TrueTeenBabes models is it much the same and most of them can be traced back to those emails and messages sent early that Saturday or the cheerleading championship later that day.
One card was given to a girl named Shelly but her mom wasn't interested. Shelly gave the card to Dusty, who used to date a boy from the next high school named Levi. At a party Dusty met Levi's new girl and gave her the card and that was the very first model shot and posted - Jennifer Mondial. Jennifer later brought along a couple of other models.
Dusty was so interested that she visited the office and got more cards and it happens she was on the cheer team at the same high school as Kara and Rachel.
Chelsea was the second TrueTeenBabes model and got a card that day. She later sent along two other girls.
Mandie was the third TrueTeenBabes model and got a card that day. She got her's when another girl left it laying in the bathroom.
Danielle (55th) got a card that day but her mom made her wait over a year because she was already involved in other activities, teen pageants, cheerleading and rodeo.
The Florida girls we had contacted by email also had similar loose connections. Anna Marie told Angela who told Patricia and on and on.
This idea of being comfortable with doing the shoots and wanting to share the experience with friends and relatives was normal. At least it was back then.
While this essay is about models ages 13 to 17 and TrueTeenBabes - or our friends that work with models in that age range - I must mention that the interest in working in front of cameras and showing off online carried on for years with many girls. Several of the TrueBabes models from 2004 to 2010 are girls that had first contacted me about TrueTeenBabes but were unable to get their mother to agree and sign the paperwork. They came back at age 18 or 19.
That was just the way it was. Nobody thought much about it at all and many, many girls wanted in on the fun. Those first 8 years we turned down girls we would have loved to hire if there was more time and shoot dates available. We also found ourselves, more than once, being pushed into hiring two sisters when we only wanted one, or cousins when one wasn't as photogenic as the other.
In other words; girls and parents pushed us, often pretty hard, to get their kid in front of the cameras and on TrueTeenBabes. I'm sure it was much the same for the others in the business.
Along came 2009 or 2010 and "The Four Fs" came into play. The fun slowly stopped. The knocks on the door faded away. The emails and online applications to pose went from hundreds a month to a tiny trickle.
The majority reason behind this massive shift in interest and desire, I'm convinced, is because of "The Four Fs" and the power they wield in the lives of people these days.
Before I can tie this all together and explain it from my old bald guy point of view it may be best if I clearly define just what each of "The Four Fs" are - in no particular order.
We all know it as a giant social media network where boys and girls, friends and family, scammers and businesses can all come together to exchange ideas and photos, compliment and criticize, bitch and complain, meet and greet, and unfortunately attack, embarrass and verbally abuse.
That place has grown in the past 4-5 years to dominate lives. People live for it. Adults and children alike ignore their friends and neighbors that are sitting 3 feet away to cruise Facebook and peer into other people's lives - invited or not.
I know a girl that refuses to wear safety goggles in a tanning bed because she can't read the Facebook application on her phone while tanning. She is willing to risk her vision to avoid missing a Facebook message or "Like".
I also know people, lonely unemployed yet egotistical people, that feel they are the Facebook police and will start drama or report to others, to school principles, to distant relatives, to law enforcement or to Facebook itself anything they don't personally believe in or are allowed to participate in.
The real power of Facebook lies in a few areas; One, the reliance of society these days on Facebook. Two, the desire to get as many "Likes" as possible and the fear of being criticized there. Three, the search capabilities and the power that brings to those that wish to abuse it - even when they don't realize that they are.
Facebook is the king of social media and the dominate force in millions of lives daily - in particular the lives of teenage girls that teen model entrepreneurs hope to hire as models - but most of the issues I'm about to discuss are also in place on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and other social networking sites.
It isn't hard to describe family but I want to make sure to include those outside the immediate household.
Grandparents that might live on the far side of town or all the way across the country, cousins that are 6 states down the highway, aunts and uncles spread around the world or brothers and sisters that are off to college.
The biggest might be divorced parents with mom in town and dad down the road or across the country.
Friends of these family members and more fit in the family category.
This is a big one because people that fall into the friends category get there from a wide range of angles and situations.
Some friends are the normal type, male and female, that a girl might attend school with, shop the mall with, giggle at the movies with. The ones in her phone contact list that she plans fun things with, trust her secrets to, or gets advice from.
Some friends fit this category because of an attraction of the boy - girl nature. Boyfriends, ex-boyfriends, and even what I would call future boyfriends - meaning the cute boy the girl is talking to and hoping will ask her out on a date.
Boys or girls that are met at school would fall in this category even if they are not tight friends but rather because they act friendly as they say hello passing each other in the mall or school hallways.
Teachers also fall in this category. Many, if not most, use a very friendly approach to working with students and often try to give friendly advice on subjects outside of the classroom.
Online friends, or more commonly "Facebook Friends", might fall in here too. Many the girl has never met in person but they are on her "friends list" because she just clicks "Yes" to all those requests she gets daily. The could be boys or girls, real or fake, young or old, and some may even be fakers that belong in the next category.
Fans is one of the most diverse and stranger categories.
Some fans are paying monthly subscribers to a website a particular model is featured on or her own fan club site. They enjoy the view and pay for the privilege monthly, or as often as their personal budget allows.
Some are general pretty girl fans that harmlessly click around to everything from Playboy and Maxim to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and TrueTeenBabes. They browse the free sites like SI when they have time, pay for admittance to others, and in general support those sites that provide the content to feed their hobby.
A limited few are pretty girl fans that think of the keyboard as a weapon and themselves as the big bad bully in charge of everything they see. They are online to enjoy the view, but also to verbally attack, harass and embarrass. Males and females, that hide behind anonymous screennames and email accounts, trying to manipulate and dominate because they know a teenage girl is most likely unable to fight back.
Another small group within the fan category are deviants like found in all realms of society. Those that are a little off beat, non-normal, unclear in their mental grasp of the world and it's realities, their place in it, the models place in it and what being a fan really means and entitles a person to. Think of that Devon Meek guy that stalks Miley Cyrus and you know the type of guy or girl that falls in this group.
The First "F" - Facebook
Facebook is the center of all I'm talking about. In many ways it is the center of the world for many teenagers and adults alike. To hold such a position in the lives of so many it must appeal to a wide ranging and very diverse population.
Imagine, if you will, a pyramid. That is Facebook - a pyramid, with a very, very wide base.
Facebook is the biggest website, biggest social network, and biggest lifestyle influencer on earth. Not religion, not money, not sports, not college, Facebook.
The biggest pyramid in the world is the Great Pyramid of Cholula. To reach that status it has to have the widest base. In the case of the Great Pyramid of Cholula that base is made up mostly of adobe bricks.
For Facebook to be the biggest website, biggest social network, and biggest lifestyle influencer on earth it also must have a very wide base. A wide base in the case of Facebook means people. Lots and lots of people.
If Facebook was limited to eight foot tall albinos that eat only hot dogs covered in spicy mustard it wouldn't have a very large base now would it?
It must appeal to the widest number of humans to have the widest base of usage on earth. That means it has to lower itself to the lowest common denominator possible. It attempts to be satisfactory to everybody. It can't take one position over the other, it can't support one idea or thought over the other, it can't allow one person a preference over another. it's made up of millions of people along that widely diverse base.
That means that we now have a situation where things seen, done or heard outside of Facebook need to be acceptable on Facebook.
People, young and old, male and female, shy or wild, rich or poor, now base many of their actions on what would be welcome, acceptable or "Liked" by the viewers of their Facebook page - not what they themselves really want to do.
The lowest common denominator in many lives these days is the widest range of appeal and approval on Facebook. Young people want "everybody to like them" not just their close friends, neighbors or family. Everybody on Facebook... including total strangers, jealous losers, distant 3rd cousins they will never meet, and more.
Posing for TrueTeenBabes, or dozens of sites like it, in a tiny bikini or daring lingerie will not get as many "Likes" as a selfie posed in front of the mirror in a pink tank top. That's because... anybody and everybody on Facebook can do that exact same thing and buy that exact same tanktop... but not all of them can have fun being paid for looking super cute in a thong.
The girl posting the tanktop selfie has just shown the world she is part of the norm. Part of the base. One of them. Being outside the norm brings ridicule, harassment, and as the younger set calls it; "drama".
In her mind she may be thinking "I look better in this than that girl he is dating now" but she doesn't state that when posting the picture because she would then be a "drama starter" (known to the rest of us as "starting some shit").
No matter what they tell you, no matter how much you try to convince yourself otherwise, no matter how much you hate me and don't trust anything I type, the bare fact is that most people are on Facebook for a very limited number of reasons.
Supervision, acceptance, gratification, stimulation and egotistical satisfaction.
Everything else is secondary. It all comes down to those terms. They may breakdown to smaller bits and bites - like "gratification" could become "sexual gratification" - but it's almost all based on those phrases.
The cute high school boy is not there to learn to drive his car. He is there to check out the hot girl in school he hopes to get in the backseat of his car for... gratification, and later when he brags to his friends... egotistical satisfaction.
That boy's grandmother is there not to communicate with him, but to supervise him from afar. Think about it - as soon as he posts a photo of himself smoking a joint won't grandma be on the phone telling his mother and father and hoping to put a stop to it? She isn't enjoying his photos, she is approving his photos, and through Facebook she is supervising his life as best she can.
If that same boy doesn't have marijuana smoking photos but a full album of himself getting his diploma, science awards, and a trophy for winning the state football championship, grandma approves and gets her own egotistical satisfaction by sending them, or a link, to everybody she knows.
The "Like" button is an ego switch. it's more powerful than any Red Bull or Monster you have ever tasted. The more "Likes" a person has the more egotistical satisfaction they feel. The more important they feel.
To receive more "Likes" and positive comments boys and girls, adults and minors, models and jerks, all try to appeal to the widest base of friends and general Facebook users as possible.
To not receive as many "Likes" as expected, or to get a negative comment on a "Status" post, is devastating for those reaching out for acceptance, gratification, stimulation and egotistical satisfaction.
And that brings us right back to the whole point of this story. Why there are fewer and fewer teen girls entering the teen model business these days and why there are fewer and fewer girls staying in the business once they try it.
Facebook is right in the middle. The other three "Fs" are circling around it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
A teen girl posts a photo of the cute shirt at the mall and there are 13 people replying to that status update. "Likes", comments saying how cute it is, saying she should buy it, and even grandma chipping in offering to buy it for the girls next birthday.
The circle closed in and replied within minutes. The girl experienced acceptance because they clicked the "Like" button, she received stimulation because the cute boy she has been eyeing in class was one of those that said she would look cute in it, and she received egotistical satisfaction by the other boys and girls taking the time to reply. It makes her "feel good about herself" and that is the ego food all teens seek.
If that same teen girl posts a photo of a sexy thong lingerie item from Victoria Secrets she'll also get replies. Boys may say "hot", a few girls will say "cute" and a few may say something like "slutty", and grandma will object. She won't be buying the outfit and she won't be posting anything like that again.
All because she wants to fit in. She wants to be part of the wide base of people on Facebook more than anything else in her life.
The fear of not fitting in, not being accepted, not being part of the norm (base) and social media attacks by family, friends and fans are the reason there are fewer teens models active in recent years.
Back in those early days of TrueTeenBabes if a girl posed in the tiniest thong bikini her grandma wasn't aware and objecting in ten minutes. These days if a teen girl is in our studio her friends know it and she can't, like the old days, say "just doing some photos for fun" because her social sphere will demand to see the results.
Facebook's wide reach and dominate position in a teen girls life, and that of her family, friends and fans, changed all that.
Right now dozens of people reading this are saying to themselves something along the lines of "why doesn't she just not tell her family or keep the photos off Facebook?"
That sounds all fine and dandy but it doesn't work... because of the last 3 "Fs"
The Second "F" - Family.
Family is on the list because they have learned to use Facebook and all it's tools, links and search capabilities to dig and dig deep. They want to know whats going on. They may justify it by saying "she is my sister and I have a right to know" or "that's my granddaughter and I need to watch over her", but the truth is they often cause more problems than they solve.
Family being involved in a girl's life is very important and I'm not in any way suggesting they shouldn't be involved. But, Facebook isn't the place and embarrassing a teen girl there, in front of her friends, until she is in tears to make her see things the parent or grandparent's way is not the right way.
Facebook is now so wide ranging that if the girl hasn't posted an update in the past couple of hours family will think something is wrong and start calling or texting her. If she isn't posting she may not be eating, she may not be alive, she may have been captured by wild bears on her camping trip. All points bulletins must go out and go out right now because it's been almost an hour since she posted!!!!
There is no practical way for the girl to tell relatives they can't see her Facebook page and photos. The more she would resist the more they would insist. That's a losing cause.
Family also includes divorced parents. You can count on one parent using the daring modeling against the other in some sort of court procedure or custody battle. Even if both parents would approve while married one will complain and make an issue of it once a divorce is pending or a child support payment is due.
Often mom will approve, even grandma will approve, and things will seem just fine... until the aunt, coworker or boss finds out. Then we suddenly have a situation where the mom and grandma are the ones trying to satisfy somebody that views their Facebook page and to do so they have to drag the girl out of the modeling scene - and often lie about approving in the first place.
It cuts right through the middle of all those relationships - the relationships on Facebook. Would the mom's boss or co-worker know what the daughter was doing if they couldn't click from their own page, to the mom's page, to the daughter's page, to the daughter's photo albums or status updates? No.
Yes, we know that she could just not tell friends she was modeling, or modeling for TrueTeenBabes, or modeling in tiny outfits. She can do all she wants to keep it private. It won't work. It never has and as more and more people are addicted to Facebook and devoted daily to being in every other person's "business", it will never work.
It gets worse, not better, because every few months Facebook makes changes or adds features that make monitoring others, their moves, their habits and the entire lives easier. All in the name of "sharing".
Often the photos are first posted with a positive tone and with good intention. Take the case of a mom grabbing a photo or two and posting it in one of her own albums with a note saying something like "Look how cute my baby has grown up to be".
Mom did it for what reason? Egotistical satisfaction.
At the moment she clicked "upload" she fully expected her Facebook base of family and friends to be clicking that "Like" button and typing out positive comments.
The second it doesn't happen, and when it is follow-up by just one comment reading "Why would you let your 15 year old daughter do that?", it's over. The drama has started. The photo is taken down - but copies have been emailed to other co-workers, neighbors, family and friends.
Mom has done the single worst thing she can do in the Facebook age - she broke out of the norm and tried to make it appear her daughter was superior to the other daughters. That's not acceptable on Facebook and those other people - grown adult people - will attack her all over that site, on others, at the office and beyond.
How dare she show off how her daughter is 15 but has the bikini body of a 20 year old!
It's not allowed. Just who the fuck did she think she was showing that - even if it is true - it is not allowed damn it!
That is why they don't keep score in little league soccer games these days - because society wants everybody to be the same. Everybody is a winner. No reason to try extra hard, run further, do more push-ups - you'll get the same trophy as the guys that does workout harder, so why the fuck bother?
That other mom - that jealous other mom - is saying; Don't dare try to show that your daughter has a tighter shape, eats better, takes better care of her hair and skin than my 15 pound overweight chubby cheek, pimple face kid - I'll attacked you. I'll call it porn. I'll call the police and the school administration. You are not allowed to have a superior kid and flaunt it on Facebook!!! Fuck No, Fuck No, Fuck No!
The minute that happens the model's mother has two choices. She emails the photographer and begs for the pictures to be "taken off the Internet" or she fights back.
Most, by far, take the easy way out. Very few fight back, stand up for the photos or half naked modeling, or the teen model websites, or their own daughters decisions... because Facebook itself, and being accepted and part of the norm (base) is more important to most mothers these days.
Most, by far, take the easy way out.
No benefit in naming names but it's true that many of the models pretty girl fans have admired on TrueTeenBabes and TeenGlamourGirls in the past few years left the business under this exact circumstance - somebody in the second "F" (family) not approving after some drama on the first "F" (Facebook). it's the same for many, many other websites.
Before Facebook, and all that linking to grandmas and aunts, and photo albums, and "Like" buttons, and deep linking from one grandma of a cousin to the grandmas of a model to the mother, to the divorced father, this just didn't happen.
The Third "F" - Friends.
The girl first makes a choice to either tells friends about her desire to pose for something like TrueTeenBabes and in that style of outfit or she doesn't.
In the long run it doesn't matter because some friend will come across the photos some where. The damn websites themselves wouldn't be successful if the banners, advertisements, sample images and other items didn't make it out in the world.
Somebody that knows somebody that knows her, or has found her on Facebook, will bring the photos to that site. It might not be done maliciously and it might even be a fan - but I'll get to that in the next section - but once it's there the drama starts.
Maybe she shows one close friend and swears that girl to secrecy... but as soon as they argue over some boy those photos are on status messages all over Facebook, which in today's social media age means all over the world.
Grandma will see them in ten minutes and we are right back to the family situation I mentioned above.
Other girls will see them and damn if they aren't ten seconds away from calling her a slut.
Maybe those other girls wish they had her body, or could do it themselves, but they will never admit that because it would be admitting they don't have the body or the confidence to do it themselves.
Remember that pyramid I discussed? Wide at the bottom with as many people as possible all getting along and being equals. When the new teen model posts that picture of herself looking awesome, showing a great shape, a smooth tan, thick and healthy professionally styled hair, and magazine cover style make-up she - at least for a few minutes - is at the top of the pyramid. She feels special.
But, don't think for one damn minute that other girls or their mothers or their sisters or their aunts are going to let her stay there. No fucking way and no fucking way are the other girls going to work on their own body, hair, shape, tan or confidence to try to climb up there with her... it's too damn easy to use Facebook, and other social media, to humiliate her and bring her back down to that lower level where they are - and where they think she belongs.
Because it can't be given to her if it isn't given to everybody. She can't be a cute bikini model if all girls, short or tall, slim or damn fat, can't also be a bikini model!
Top of the heap (pyramid) is no longer allowed. Society must be equal. In the teenage years, around 13-17, you can't be a winner - and they are taking away the damn scoreboard on every soccer field keep you from thinking you are.
All because looking better as a 15 year old model or as a 15 year old soccer player might make the others - those lazy, sit on Facebook 18 hour a day others - look bad.
In the end it is that negative response of Facebook that the model is devasted by. She wants to be accepted and have friends. The draw of positive responses on Facebook is all powerful and personal enjoyment or accomplishment is secondary.
Yes, of course, there are going to be close friends that try to stay "out of it" (silent) or even support the girl in the drama, and yes there will be horny teen boys that send her messages, but in the end the Facebook "base" of visitors to her page are going to join the rest of the crowd (base) and post as much negativity as they can.
They post that negativity - even if they don't personally believe it - because they too want to "fit in" and be part of the "in crowd" (base). It only takes one negative comment and it's like a dam breaking - everybody jumps in.
For the other teen girls posting negativity when given the opportunity is something they just can't resist.... The can't resist it because of the very damn thing that brings them to Facebook in the first place - Egotistical Satisfaction. It makes them feel better about themselves to bring somebody else down to their level.
To those other girls there is no fucking way can they have another girl out there modeling, showing off her body, making money to buy nice clothes at the mall. That's unfair and just because she is cute and has a trim body she shouldn't be entitled to anything more than they have. They attack to prevent her from being a "one percenter", the cutest (or sexiest) girl on the page, in her school, at the local mall.
That's the way they are these days. In many cases that's the way they are brought up... with the mindset of "she can't have it if you can't have it".
And Facebook gives those attackers - and yes, they are attackers - a platform to stage the attack on a very wide ranging and massive scale.
Please don't think a rude verbal attack on Facebook wouldn't be enough to get a girl to give up modeling. Hell, a verbal assault on Facebook by other teens can drive a teenage girl to suicide. See here, here and here.
Or, the girl that committed suicide because her parents banned her from Facebook here.
That is the power of Facebook and wanting to be accepted there. Be part of the norm (base) there. Get positive, and only positive, comments and "Likes". To get egotistical satisfaction, to get simulation, to set themselves up for gratification.
Nothing else matters to teens in this day and age.
Stop thinking what you are thinking right now - that she should just ignore those people and keep modeling.
She can't ignore those people because those people and that place is her life. it's Facebook and if it isn't accepted on Facebook to that very wide base (meaning pretty much everybody that ever views her page), as you see from those suicide stories, it can't be done.
Stop thinking what you are thinking right now - that she should fight back and do what she wants to do.
She can't. Facebook and being accepted there - because it's "life" as she knows it - is what she wants to do. Modeling was just secondary... it was down the list... it was just another thing she wanted to do as long as it didn't interfere with Facebook.
Stop thinking what you are thinking right now - that she should think about the money she is paid and nothing else.
She can't think about the money because money doesn't matter to a teenage girl if she doesn't have friends to share it with by going to the movies, shopping at the mall, joining the gang at Starbucks or having a great dress for prom. Money means a lot less to teenage girls than it does to adults. Think about this... when a teenager has money what is the number one thing he or she wants to do with that money? Get a bigger or faster phone or tablet or pad so they can access Facebook faster or with a bigger screen. If they are not within the norm (base) on Facebook... nothing else, including decent paychecks, matter.
Stop thinking what you are thinking right now - that she should just keep the photos away from Facebook and not tell people about the modeling.
That will never happen.
First, because most teenage girls don't realize in advance that so many of their family members (the second "F") will object or that so many of their so called "friends" (the third "F") will use it to start "drama" and embarrass, harass, or demean her, she will talk about it or post photos.
Think about it... One of the top reasons a teen girl wants to be a model is to say she is a model. To brag... to get that ego satisfaction. And what is one of the main reasons people are on Facebook... Egotistical satisfaction. Of course she is going to put up a photo or two to "show off" that she is a model because at first she thinks it will bring egotistical satisfaction, and never thinks it will cause the shit storm is will cause.
Stop thinking what you are thinking right now - that photographers and webmasters should tell her in advance to keep modeling a secret.
No way. We are talking about conversations with teen girls and their mothers. How can I state that modeling in thongs, lingerie or in other daring garments is a legitimate modeling job but in the next breath tell them to do all they can to keep it secret? The answer is I can't, I shouldn't and in my case I wouldn't. And, it wouldn't matter if I did.
It defeats the purpose. Success in the business demands the girl is popular and not secret. It depends on her being comfortable and confident in front of the camera and in those tiny outfits. Tell her, or her mother, that they should treat the photos or website as something shameful that needs to be hidden from everybody outside the studio is stealing her confidence not enhancing it.
I want her confident and positive so the photo production day goes smoothly and the results draw paying fans. Pretty girl fans want her confident and positive so the results are eye catching and worth paying for. She wants to be confident and positive and know in her head she is doing something fun, exciting and that not every teen girl can do - it's her ego food.
Myself, other photographers and all pretty girl fans have another reason for wanting the girl to be confident and positive during the shoot and after it is done - because we are hoping she introduces us to other cute girls that can be our next new model.
In the end the reasons don't matter. Why other teens attack, why distant family disapproves, why some boys think it's cute while others - the ex-boyfriend and his gang - post that it's slutty... the result is the same... People in the third "F" category of "friends" have taken actions that cause a girl to drop out of the teen glamour modeling business - no matter how much she enjoyed it, felt confident in it, like spending the money she received from it.
Again, I see no benefit in naming names but it's true that many of the models pretty girl fans have enjoyed on TrueTeenBabes and TeenGlamourGirls in the past few years left the business under this exact circumstance - somebody in the third "F" (friends) not approving after some drama on the first "F" (Facebook).
This is more devastating to teen model photographers and websites than the second "F" (family) because just a few years ago a successful teen model was the person we relied on to bring along her friends that become our new models. That doesn't happen nearly as often as it did before the Facebook craze started and it grew to dominate teenager's lives.
Even if a friend wants to do it, or is scheduled to do it, as soon as the first girl is verbally abused on Facebook, all others will drop that desire and cancel those plans. Many a photo shoot cancelled for that very reason.
The Forth "F" - Fans
Before I delve into this too far I must state a bit of a disclaimer... Pretty girl fans are no different than other members of society. By far the largest percentage of them are decent folks going about their lives, online and off, in a casual, respectful, honest and harmless manner.
If I go out and drive in rush hour traffic today I'm going to be surrounded by other drivers that came to the highway from all over the state. All races will be there, all manner of cars and trucks will be there and various skill or experience level of drivers will be there. By far the largest percentage of the drivers are decent folks going about their drive home after a busy day at work - a day much like the one you may have just finished yourself, or I'm just wrapping up myself.
Somewhere in the middle of that crowded highway is going to the one or two bad guys. We've all seen him. The one with the sense of entitlement because he thinks he is better than you and I. The one jumping back and forth between lanes. The one looking in the mirrors for any hole in traffic he can find. The one looking in the visor mirror at himself and asking why the fuck the rest of us don't get the hell off the highway when he is there! The one that caused the nice older lady to slam on her brakes and get hit in the rear end while he drove away egotistically unaware of the accident he caused.
Well, pretty girl fans are the same way. By far the largest percentage of them - and I have met, spoken with, drank beer with and exchanged messages with, hundreds of them over the years - are decent folks that work hard, pay their bills, help their neighbors and quietly go about their life without causing or participating in any drama.
Like drivers on the interstate, there is always a few with that sense of entitlement thing going on. The ones that think that because they are a fan, or because they joined a website a few months ago, they are somehow invited into the model's personal life, that they own her, that they should be on her personal Facebook friends list along with her boyfriend, the ones that create fake profiles and pretend to be teenage girls to get on that friends list, the ones - like the rude driver - that cause a mess and don't realize what damage they left behind because they are too busy looking at themselves in the mirror and telling themselves how special they are.
I like and appreciate teen model fans, but some can be like Caribbean winds - cool and breezy, or like a category 5 hurricane out to destroy. it's the various category of hurricane type fans I am talking about today. it's a small group - but can be destructive.
The first thing you need to know is that girls in the age range of 13 to 17 do not want unknown adult males or females stalking them to their personal Facebook pages. End of story - get your head out of your ass if you think otherwise.
Fake profiles, run under stage names, and managed by the webmaster 80% of the time, are one thing - and that's normally for models 18 and above - but a teenage girl's personal profile should be respected and off limits.
Teen girls don't think it's neat when a rude fans hit her timeline with a post that says "I'm a member of your site and think your ass is cute" - she thinks it's fucking scary - and it is.
It also brings reaction from the others that see it. Within minutes that one message is turned into multiple posts about the dirty old man stalking her and we are right back to the second "F" (family) and the third "F" (friends) getting involved and telling her to be careful, to block the asshole, and to stop modeling.
That fan may think it was cool but it wasn't. He may even think he is cool, her friend, or a stud, but he isn't. It was just an asshole move by an asshole.
Remember above when I talked about girls doing what they can to keep pictures off Facebook and keep the modeling a bit private? Well, more than once that's been ruined by a fan. Maybe even a well meaning fan... but still a fan that posts the pictures himself.
Sometimes he does it to compliment her - "This is my favorite shot" - but other times it's that rude prick that does it because he wants to hide behind a fake profile and verbally attack. He gets his fun by trying to ruin other peoples lives.
Some of you need to stop thinking what you are thinking right now - that I'm talking about other guys and not you because you are a great guy and nice to the girls you track down on Facebook.
Bullshit - stalking in a friendly manner is still stalking.
It doesn't matter if you are a fan and appreciate her work in front of the camera. it's doesn't matter if you pay once for that website months ago or have been a recurring member for a year. You are a jerk if you are stalking teenage girls to their personal profiles on Facebook.
You are worse than a jerk if you are doing so with the intent of starting shit with their friends.
I'm not going to go on and on about fans. I used a few cuss words here and the subject disgusts me to no end - but it's not near as big of a reason for teen girls leaving, or not ever entering, the teen glamour model business as the second and third "Fs" of family and friends.
There is no subscription to a teen model website that entitles any fan to track a girl down to her personal Facebook page and scare her - even if the fan didn't mean to scare her.
But, it has happened a few times over the years - that a fan would make a girl nervous enough to quit or her family worried enough to pull her out.
It's destructive to the business and makes no sense. If a guy or girl is a pretty girl fan and wants her to keep modeling for months and months - why at the same time take silly, immature, actions that scare her and her family away?
Ever wonder why I don't have any teen models, family members, model mothers or associates on my Facebook friends list? Because some crazed fan will click away and cause some sort of trouble - even if not intending to. I know from experience.
Closing Thoughts and Notes
I'm not blaming Facebook.com for any of this. it's the people that are on Facebook - family that see things and react, friends that abuse the system and their keyboard, fans that work the tools and search capabilities foolishly.
Facebook.com is a pretty cool place but being there, and being open on there, has many, many unintended consequences. Some affect the teen model business in ways not seen before it came along and started to dominate lives and lifestyles.
Facebook might give the teen girl freedom... The freedom to visit old friends, meet cute new boys, learn new things... but in some ways it also limit's her freedom... the freedom to do what she wants without being harassed, embarrassed, shamed, verbally abused, stalked and dramatized.
Now, being along that Facebook base, part of the Facebook norm, is all that matters. The same issues apply to Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and the other social media outlets.
Many of you might not think this is all true. So be it. I know it because I talk to teen girls and their parents every week. Those that have been around the teen model scene for years and years know it is. Not only are girls not staying in the business as long - say 2-4 years from age 13 to 17 - but the girls that are coming along or participating are not of the same "model quality" as years past. For every Victoria or Kelsey or Jaclynn we find that stays a while we are forced to put up with average girls that are not really model quality and that we wouldn't have hired in the days before Facebook.
Yes, a few girls do fight off the Facebook attackers. Good for them... but it's also sad they have to and it never turns out good in the long run because the attacks continue at school. Amanda, Jaclynn, Kelsey and many more are high school drop-outs with minimum future plans for after their looks and paying fans dissipate.
On the other hand - girls from those early years that didn't have Facebook to deal with, Jennifer, Alia, Kara, Danielle, Amber, Rachel, Anna, and on and on... all at least a high school graduates with steady full time careers. One I just mentioned owns two homes here in town, another works and is back at college on her way to being a lawyer, another is a public relations person you may have seen on the Travel Channel.
What used to be the cool girl activities, such as modeling and cheerleading, are now in many ways not the cool girl activities and maybe even are frowned upon in some areas.
Remember when I talked about attending the state "Cheerleading Championship" back in 2000? That same event is now called the "Spirit Championship" - as if "cheerleader" is a nasty word like slut or bitch.
Just a few paragraphs back I was speaking about model quality. it's the same for cheerleading. Those squads used to be the elite 12 girls in each grade - the slim, trim, super cute and super healthy 12 girls. Tops in the beauty department and more. it's no longer that way. Take a look at some of your local cheer squads now and tell me that the 5'1" girl that weighs 135 pounds is the hottest, healthiest, in best shape, most attractive girl in school. She isn't - but she is there because society, on Facebook or off, says everybody has to be equal and to accomplish that the standards have to be lowered to the lowest common denominator.
Modeling or modeling school? Forget that - 2 have closed here in the Denver area in the past few years. Back in 2011 when we ran that nationwide search for the 10th anniversary TrueTeenBabes model and gave away $10,000 and the trip to Hawaii we sent flyers to the local modeling schools. Four girls and their mothers came by the office. Only one of the four was slim, attractive, photogenic. What the agent / modeling school thought was a potential teen bikini model wasn't up to standards of years past. Not even close.
Clearly things are different with models that are college age and above. Most are better suited to handle Facebook and other criticisms, more experienced in the world, maybe more mature and / or determined. But even there it is not all perfect and pretty. Just 60 days ago a straight A college student took her own life after relentless verbal abuse on Facebook and Twitter. Read that story here.
Read it twice, then think about that same verbal abuse being sent to a girl much younger, that is not performing sex acts, and you'll know why teen girls drop out of, or never enter, the teen model business.
Damn I hate what social media allows people to do to others... and to do it with no remorse or consequences.
June 13th, 2014
Littleton, Colorado. USA