Bitch on the Blog

April 16, 2014


Filed under: Atmosphere — bitchontheblog @ 17:58
Tags: , ,

There is discussion on the use of child models and the authenticity conveyed by the consequent photographs used. I have no stand on this. Particularly as I was once one of those ‘stand-ins”. When I was under ten. At at time when people were less squeamish.

Exhibit number one, possibly the one that will shock some people: My father, at the time an investigate journalist, and his prize winning photographer colleague needed a photo to go with an article on how television frightens children. My father asked me to join them at the table – as if for a friendly chat. Out of nowhere he blew cigarette smoke into my face. Naturally, such was my surprise, I did all the photo needed: Eyes wide open with shock, my little hands raised to my mouth in horror. Perfect. And no, we didn’t have a TV.

Another one (remember this is under cover photography): Children in traffic. I was told to weave in and out of traffic jams. A story about children and traffic. Terrified me. Not least because my parents had actually taught me to always look left and right before crossing a road. Still. Needs must.

What else? Yes, there was one on children abused by pedophiles. So my father took his eight year old daughter by her hand. I was asked to call him ‘uncle’. As we crossed many a road in the city he asked several police men and pedestrians for directions. To test whether they’d questions him over his legitimacy to me. Not that I told him, but that was probably not his finest hour of reportage: Of course no one questioned him. For heaven’s sake we look far too similar. Like father and daughter. As young as I was I knew that no one think me in danger. A few years later the milkman mistook my father as my older brother. I rest my case.

There are other examples. One which I still blush and squirm at. I have never been particularly shy. But  one assignment – out there in the public – did test my mettle. Still, they got the photos they wanted. No, nothing sexual. Charity. Red Cross.

What were we talking about: Authenticity. I’d rather be told that the child in an advert is a model than the real thing. Not that that makes the “real thing” any better.




  1. I have very strong views on this topic Ursula as I have seen parents become monsters to get their children to either model or take part in TV programmes like Talented Children, and the children are traumatised. Their lives with peers become tense and there is no let up at home either. Imagine what happens to them when they grow up!

    Comment by Rummuser — April 17, 2014 @ 01:47 | Reply

    • I hear you, Ramana. However, and this is why I mentioned the above examples, the ‘modelling’ I refer to is to illustrate real life drama, not clothes. And I would like my father and his photographers not be misunderstood: I was ‘there’ (available as it were) and I have very expressive eyes, ideal to illustrate whatever story was to be covered. Neither was there any money in it. I dare say my father would have been the first to DIScourage me going into modelling how it is understood these days. Not that that was ever an ambition of mine. The very nature of his work shone light on some, not so pretty, dank corners of human existence. And he was not shy – as my father – to point out all the pitfalls BEFORE I, his daughter, could possibly trip up. When I was in my teens if he’d drawn me a map of life he couldn’t have been more descriptive. Combined with my own innate caution his (occasionally a little paranoid) guidance stood me in good stead. Reminds of a story. Which makes me smile. Will tell it another time.

      As to “glamour” modelling: Brother of a friend of a former colleague of mine (both men are true lookers) took up fashion modelling at about age eighteen (this was in the mid Eighties). His parents weren’t exactly overjoyed, but it made him good money, didn’t give him an inflated ego. Better than another friend of mine, sweet guy – as good as gold, who considered making money by becoming an escort for Swiss ladies dripping with jewellery. In the end he went to Canada to fell trees. Yes, that’s how sweet he was.

      To widen your argument slightly: Whichever sphere we are talking about I think hothousing, pushing children to fulfill their parents’ ambitions stinks to high heaven. Tiger mums? I am not given to violence but I could punch some of these helicopter mothers. Forever hovering, forever pushing. That’s not how I was brought up, and it most certainly is not how I brought up my son. If he wanted to learn, say, acoustic guitar instrument was bought, lessons were paid for. When he lost interest – fine. I don’t nag, freedom and choice is everything to me. Not, of course, that a parent shouldn’t give pointers, give impetus. But we have to let our children find their own ways: Be it taking up stone walling, academia, preferably not drug dealing or anything else that might land you in a shit house and with a broken nose.

      Talking of broken noses: Yes, the Angel sat me down to watch a Robert de Niro (A Bronx Tale) the other night. Acting – and another fine example of potential to become an obnoxious diva. Long time bestest friend of mine had one ambition and one ambition only: Acting. Her parents were horrified. They did pay for all it involved under ONE condition: That she trained as something, anything, “respectable” first. She chose teaching. We are not in contact any longer but following her career, by all accounts her parents should be proud to be sitting in the audience. I didn’t think she had drama in her. But she does. Remarkable. Has accolade spoilt her, gone to her head? I dare say: Unlikely.

      Ramana, I don’t know what’s come over me in recent times. My blog seems to become more and more autobiographical. Particularly in the comment section I have to stop myself mid stream. Build a dam to not let memories/life’s experience overflow. There is a song somewhere along the lines of “You talk too much”. A sin which most certainly can be put at my doorstep. Never mind. No one is perfect. Apart from me.

      I’ll try and find the link to the story which inspired the initial post so you understand the angle I am coming from.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — April 17, 2014 @ 04:40 | Reply

  2. Caught up with you now. Interesting and complex posting – I had heard about this war and male progeny elevation before and the manly men. As to child modelling. I turned an opportunity for Daughter down when she was under a year. In spite of the fact her dad and I were quite impoverished and it was for Ivory soap and I was only 22. I’d read the Shirley Temple biography and was appalled. It wasn’t an easy decision when dollar signs are hitting your eyeballs and you can fool yourself that the child will be “fine”. They’re never fine. Miley Cyrus. QED.


    Comment by wisewebwoman — April 17, 2014 @ 21:06 | Reply

    • Yes, WWW. However, those days were different. In as much as things just happened. My post was brought on by a rather mean article on a photographer using his daughter’s grief and tears over I don’t know, say, a dead pet, to illustrate an article of mal treated children. It was called fake.So? Satisfy the voyeur’s appetite with the “real” thing? Don’t think so.

      My point being that in those days we weren’t squeamish, politically correct. We just got on with it. No one was hurt in the making, and by golly did I learn. Fast. No Shirley Temple for me. Though did rival her curls.

      Miley Cyrus? I have heard of her. A bit like Madonna – another woman I can’t stand. I don’t much indulge in the visual. So all that what’s it called she does – forgotten now – is lost on me. I detest the vulgar. And if she were my daughter, well … she wouldn’t be.

      As always, WWW, good to hear from you.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — April 17, 2014 @ 21:47 | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: