Congratulations, again.

Once again, you’ve selected. And once again I’m reminded how rare it is that my 5 shades of brown family is ideal representation.

When are businesses and publications going to realize that diversity can add a larger client base? And, more importantly, when are they going to act on it?

I comb through the contest albums, scrutinizing the many beautiful faces contained there. Each child unique, each child special. I linger at my favorites – the kids who immediatly captivate with infectious smiles, quirky features, freckle sprinklings, or that indescribable “it” factor that says star. The competition is often tough – if only judging the children.

But usually, these competitions are advertised as part model magic and part photographer ability.  I’d assume,then, that the child who wins does so because his portrait is amazing: crisp, lit well, staged to perfection – especially if the prize is publication or opportunity to receive products to model.  And yet, it seems there’s a caste system in this circuit. The best quality photo, the best showcased personality doesn’t always get the kudos.

Those at the top are long haired children with pale skin and bright colored eyes. Next, the children whose ethnicity is obscured by wild locks, vibrant eyes, soft tanned skinned, or any combination of these.  Occasionally,  an exotic child with uncommon features rises up in admiration. Last, though, seem to be the children of Black heritage.

Is there no marketability for these children?  Aren’t there consumers who identify with these models?

If I were to speak out, as one friend suggested, what would I say?  To call for diversity might be seen as a demand for some type of model quota.  And I’m not sure that’s what is needed.  But I’m always in awe when businesses have not a single face like ours in any of their advertising, or when every page of a magazine presents the same mold of child. 

I don’t expect to “win” them all. It’s not realistic. My children aren’t the perfect match for every entity searching for talent. But I expect to see results of competitions that are fair to all applicants.

In one magazine’s “Best of the Year” child-model competition,  I was rooting for another child (and her photographer ). The ‘tween is stunning. Confidence radiates from her. And her look? Straight out of a major editorial for a fashion magazine.  Though she was entered in several categories,  she wasn’t even recognized as an honorable mention.   I remain awed that her pictures didn’t earn publication.

And some of those who took top honors? Blurry, cluttered, color cast photos. Mere snapshots beating editorial images. How is that even permissible? What publication of merit will survive with subpar pictures?

As for the shops, I wonder if there is a consensus that people of color don’t buy from boutiques?  I hardly think there was a poll, or that demographics of customers support the generalization. There’s money to spend and fashion is a bridge across cultures and ethnicity. Not to showcase diversity in advertising, though, might lead clients to seek out creatives who do.

Frankly, I’m tired of the playing favorites. Contests, bookings, and publication shouldn’t be about who you know (or how much support you can buy).  There has to be some merit for quality and originality.  A great photo is worth the risk of breaking free of the “trendy.”  It’s the difference that makes memorable impact.

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