With the rise of the smart phone, and instant access to the Internet, there has been a huge increase in up-and-coming starlets taking to social media, using high-tech tools and modeling agencies to self-promote their personal brand and aesthetic to an ever-receptive, always on-line audience. But there’s a rising group of models gathering their fair share of the action, particularly on Instagram, namely baby models!
For ambitious musicians like Lily Allan, social tools like Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat have been invaluable in creating awareness of their modelling talents. Self-publishing tools offering real-time, instant access to fans around the globe have allowed rising stars to build their brand, create a personal and accessible identity, and led to a strong army of online followers who hang on their every move.
For the Kardashian-Jenner crew et al, this has translated into a constant fascination with their daily wardrobe, make-up, hair and accessories. With audiences fully engaged with the latest star looks online, it becomes easy to monetise their social media presence via endorsements and sponsorship deals. The smartest high fashion brands are clamouring to dress social media stars, promoting their goods to fans desperate to emulate the latest trends – often before they’ve even hit the catwalk.
With this tried and tested method winning the twenty-something modeling pack contracts with the fashion houses, and grabbing media headlines around the world, another group of aspiring models is jumping on the social media bandwagon – many before they’ve even got the motor skills to do so.
The latest trend on social media is the rise of the instamom – self-styled social media stage mums – using Instagram to increase their youngsters’ baby modelling profiles and find modelling jobs. And so far it seems to be working.
With the most successful Instagram baby models like 4-year-old London Scout boasting more than 105,000 followers and Alonso Mateo with a staggering 600,000 followers, high fashion brands are bending over backwards to have these little trendsetting models showcasing their latest lines. Indeed, young Alonso recently attended his first Fashion Week in Paris, grabbing the headlines at the Dior show.
What is it that compels these parents to so carefully curate these photos for a worldwide audience? It’s natural for parents to take regular family snaps of their child as they grow up, but these staged shots – with professional photographers, lighting and carefully selected clothing stories – put their child in the spotlight. For what end?
Apart from attracting the early attention of many parents are in it for the perks, with the fashion industry and online stores providing their latest lines for free in exchange for an endorsement on a busy Instagram feed. Keira Cannon, mum to 5 year old Princeton – whose Instagram following has reached almost 7,000 users – cites shopping discounts, samples of the latest designs and cash fees per shoot. She reports that little Princeton “kind of loves [the attention].”
Princeton’s dad, Sai Roberts, is a little more cautious. He says, “There are some concerns in the sense that if it was to get out of hand, but so far it’s really been a positive experience digismm . I’m very proud that he’s getting exposure, and I hope he’s able to use that for his own creative flair and voice as he grows older.”
Whilst followers on the children’s’ Instagram feeds are mainly positive and inspirational, there are of courses voices of concern at the potential dangers of exposing youngsters to such intense scrutiny and high aesthetic standards at a young age.
Many argue that these shoots are objectifying the children, and creating long term ramifications for the youngsters who may struggle to understand why they are being celebrated only for physical appearance. Some professionals compare the instamoms showcasing their children in the digital world to stage mums normally associated with beauty pageants.