By Caylin Coleman |
Roughly 300 made-up beautiful young women, from ages 13 to 18, are in attendance for a placement in the highly prestigious Barbizon modeling and acting school. One young woman in particular is senior Brooke Finch, a Patriots varsity dancer. Finch initially felt no pressure and pretty confident until seeing the sea of elegant dresses and over-the-top hairstyles, all set to impress the agency scouts viewing their behavior from afar. It’s obvious that tensions are high, as the fact that only 50 out of 100 girls will be picked in this elimination round.
What necessarily makes a model a model is racing through every girls’ head at the event. Do I have to be extra tall? Extra thin? Extra pretty? These questions plague the minds of not only the contestants, but of young women everywhere, mainly because of the unrealistic and air-brushed modeling billboards and magazines on constant display for the intent purpose to crush the self-esteem of regular people. Is that what Barbizon is looking for?
“Well they talked a lot about confidence so if you’re not really a confident person then that’s the place to go,” Finch recalls.
According to their website, Barbizon USA is adamant about teaching young men and women self-confidence in their modeling classes, one Saturday each month for six months, which models are required take to benefit not only their entertainment careers, but their everyday lives.
And in all of its 78 years, Barbizon is responsible for some pretty famous faces as well. Former ‘One Life To Live’ star, Ryan Phillippe, who also made history by playing the first gay teenager on a daytime soap opera. And also former ‘Baywatch’ babe Carmen Electra.
But a heavy criticism of acting and, more-so, modeling still lingers in the air: Do these entertainment careers instill an unrealistic self-image goal among young women? According to the presenter of the event, the head scouting agent Kimberly Jones, full-figure models, at least a size 14, are in particular demand right now, and tall people actually make up 8 percent of the modeling industry. “We have come a long way since the 60s and 70s when the only models in demand look like Twiggy,” she says. “We have Tyra Banks to thank for opening up modeling for everyone.” She also made it clear that the young women she picks are not just fashion models, but role-models.
The agency follows three guidelines that every young entertainer should go by: “Family, faith, and education are the three basic principles of Barbizon USA,” Jones continued, “We don’t want our kids to succumb to the woes of peer pressure that they witness on a everyday basis.”
“Many young girls like yourselves take [drugs] to relieve themselves of any body issues they might have about themselves. That’s why it’s important to us to teach our kids self-confidence and responsibility to stay away from those things.”
The only problem to a lot of the contestants is the money issue. Roughly $2,500 for only six classes doesn’t seem like a sure deal, at least not to Finch.
“I did end up getting in but it is pretty pricey for six days and I don’t think that I’m going to pay more than $2,000 for a confidence-builder class,” Finch said.
Even though the program offers a lot to promising up and comers in the entertainment world, the price range is its only flaw and could cause the program to miss out on those promising up and comers that could, like Finch, find business elsewhere.