From the classroom to the runway – summer vacation has taken on a new meaning for some children in China. Children as young as six have been taking classes and strutting the runway.
But some are worried about the negative implications of this recent trend. CGTN’s Wu Lei has more.
Summer break is actually a much busier time for six-year-old Li Zimeng as she gets more opportunities to participate in runway shows and photo shoots. After finishing a national child modeling contest, Li went straight to the runway with other child models for a local clothing brand that same night.
“About two years ago, when I first saw a modeling training, I wasn’t happy, so I told my mum this training was boring,” Li said. “But two years later, my performance is much better and I find it very interesting.”
Zhang Wenbo, who is Li Zimeng’s mother, said her daughter is much more confident after two years of practice, But as the children move on to primary school, some parents are concerned about the industry’s possible negative impacts.
“In kindergarten, children have more time to take part in the shows and photo shoots,” Zhang said “But when they go to primary school, many parents want their children to stop modeling and put more weekend time into academic training. I don’t agree. I will still let my daughter follow her own interests.”
Summer is also very busy for baby model training centers as a growing number of parents send their children to receive professional training.
“The length for the training is not fixed,” said Pan Liqun, a child model trainer. “The shortest is about 3 months, while the longest can be up to 6 years. It depends on the family’s financial situation and the interests of the children.”
Some parents said modeling might be a good way for their children to escape the pressures of academic studies for a while, as long as they enjoy the process.
However, some experts said, parents should pay more attention to their children’s learning process, rather than the results of modeling competitions.
“From a psychological perspective, we’ve done research into children’s personalities,” said He Jie, an associate professor at the Psychology department in Zhejiang University. “We found after attending many model contests and shows, the child might become overconfident and peacockish. They may put too much emphasis on external traits rather than internal ones.”
Child modeling in China benefits and industry practices
CGTN’s Mike Walter spoke with Benjamin Kontoh, a fashion designer based in China about the child modeling industry.