Suppose she’s bubbling over with excitement about her future educational plans, and one of the guests tells her, “You’re so pretty – you should go into modeling!”
Something very close to that scenario happened to me more than once. It’s vexing.
I thought the main point of Ophelia’s original post was that gendered limitations (through marketing) on toy choices fail to present girls with the full range of career possibilities that is more readily available to boys. I think this is dead on.
I have tried to get caught up on this in the other comment threads, but I’m probably still missing a lot. I think it’s safe to say that most of the 30% of girls who aspire to become models when they grow up are basing that opinion on how fun it is to play dress-up, and are not fully informed about the life of a professional model. I think it’s also true that for *some* girls or women with this particular career goal, it is a way to gain validation through the marketability of conventional beauty and thinness.
I had some minuscule amount of success as a model as a young woman, on the runway here and there and in regional department store flyers, greeting cards, etc. I earned enough to pay rent and buy my (used) textbooks for a few years of college. It was occasionally fun, but rarely something I found rewarding–that is, I don’t recall thinking ‘hey, that was a good day’s work, standing on that fake boat deck for 4 hours’ or ‘Boy, I’m really proud of the way I wore that Anne Klein outfit!’. Rather than being affirming or validating, having agents, stylists, photographers and clothing vendors fussing over my face, body, or posture and treating me like a living wax work was quite dehumanizing. The agency representing me indicated that I needed a lot of ‘work’ (boobs, nose, lips) if I wanted to take it to the next level. I didn’t.
It’s really not a great job. The parameters defining its existence are pretty crappy ones, and the reasons for wanting to get into and stay in it can be unhealthy. I don’t think it maligns the integrity or intelligence of models to point that out.