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The dangers of preteen modelling
Published in The Egyptian Gazette on 18 - 05 - 2010

Being a successful model is a very lucrative career, which is why most people would love to be models. Not only is the modelling industry a high-profile one, but it can also be seen as glamorous and exciting.
However, becoming a model is not all roses and red carpets. It can also be a really challenging and highly gruelling business.
To improve their chances of success in this field, people these days are starting to model at a younger and younger age: some of the models of today are preteen children.
Normally, models peak during their early to mid 20s and so to become a model at the age of 13 or younger allows ample time to mature. At this age, the girl's potential for height and weight are quite visible and predictable.
There are also various modelling opportunities already open for these very young models. Their still childlike, innocent-looking faces are well sought after.
In Egypt, many parents really want their kids to become supermodels someday; in some cases, their children are very talented and exceptionally good-looking.
If you have a child that falls into this category, you might want to look for a child modelling agency for him, to help him reach his full potential. But still it's the children who pay the price.
Rawan Zein, a preteen girl still at primary school, has started early in this business. She is obsessed with fashion, watching all the fashion shows on satellite channels and the Internet.
"I do like modelling, it's something that teaches you a lot," says the nine-year-old girl, whom ballets sessions have helped to develop into a whiz on the catwalk.
"Papa and Mama have given me a lot of encouragement. I've travelled to many countries like Turkey and Romania, where I've seen a lot of models in action. These trips have really helped me develop my style," adds this nine-year-old ‘Naomi Campell', who says that pink, purple, blue, silver, black and white all suit her.
As for the future, she intends to continue on the same track.
"I love dresses and extraordinary styles and designs," she says enthusiastically but innocently.
Despite being a supermodel, this doesn't mean that she's abandoned her naivety and innocence. Her favourite cartoon character is Mickey Mouse and her favourite singers are Elissa and Haifa Wahbi.
She also likes male singers like Rami Sabry and takes great care of her body, as she dreams one day of acting in a video clip with Samozein and Hamaki, well-known Arab singers.
Ten-year-old Habiba, another supermodel, likes acting and singing. She has starred in a lot of plays at school, including Cinderella.
This little Cinderella also likes fashion and she has been taught the catwalk by her instructor Eman Mahrous, a fashion designer with fashion line ‘EVE'.
"I would like to do my own movie with Egyptian actor Ahmed Helmi," she says, believing that being a model would help her dream to come true.
"I am trying to develop her gifts without forcing her into something," says Maha Ahmed, Habiba‘s mother.
As for Soheir Massoud, a fashion designer, her daughters have proved to be precocious models.
"I like designing fashion lines for kids. My first creation was an orange-coloured dress and my three-year-old daughter, Kariman, wore it," she says, adding that she likes seeing her designs on her daughters.
"I am not against children being talented; on the contrary, I want to develop their talent," Soheir stresses.
However, Professor of Psychology at Ain Shams University Mohamed Khattab sees things differently. "Modelling at the preteen age contravenes human rights. It's an abuse, a form of child labour," he told the local Akher Sa'a magazine.
When children work at such a young age, they become psychologically deprived. They should not be burdened with responsibilities, but should be allowed to play like other children of their age.
"Working as a model is hugely stressful for girls, because they feel they're constantly being evaluated. They also become self-centred and selfish, which is obviously very harmful for them," he concludes.

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