Before I began my current position as a writer for a Seattle-based fashion magazine, I scoured the internet daily for local writing jobs. Anything would do. Unable to find something fulfilling, I sucked it up and explored writing product descriptions for online retailers. While reading the career listings on Zulily.com, I got distracted by the word “Models.” (Let this be a lesson to anyone who pays writers by the hour….don’t. We get easily distracted on our computers by anything shiny.)
I submitted info for my toddler, Audrey, who loves to play dress-up and smile for the camera. Her big blue eyes and cute chunky thighs seemed like the perfect combination for a baby model. I went back to my job search and didn’t think about Zulily again until months later when they emailed me. “Yes, we’ll be there!” was my reply.
We’ve been back twice now. Apparently she’s easy to work with. It helps that when we walked into the dressing room, my itty-bitty 2-year-old saw the wall of kids’ shoes and exclaimed in awe and reverance, “Oooo…shoes!” What have I done to her? I wondered, confused and yet proud. Perhaps she had been looking at my own hoarder-style wall-o-shoes in envy, and this dressing room was the answer to her dreams. Naturally she reached for the pink glittery pair and we let her try them on before applying powder to her face and fitting her with rain boots and a pink slicker for the photo shoot.
The following weekend was SeaFair, an annual event that turns Seattle natives, frum Jews like me included, into neck-craning microbrew-drinking BBQers for three days, staring at the sky watching the Blue Angels perform their routines. While my kids were at day camp on Friday morning, my husband and I walked down to Lake Washington and into the SeaFair carnival. I wore workout clothes and sneakers, determined to find an opportunity to break a sweat. The Army booth had a push-up challenge and I heartily joined in, winning a water bottle and a hat. We tried our hands (and feet) at rock climbing and failed miserably. Around the field we wandered, feeling more and more athletic, spurred on by our CrossFit-induced tiger blood and the desire to get gritty.
That afternoon I sat at my computer and looked at photos of my little model on Zulily. She was adorable and frilly and girly, oh my! After my two boys had filled my house with Star Wars and Lego and fort-building madness, I finally had my dainty little girl. And yet, had I forgotten to imbue her with the need for speed? Here I was at 31 years old, finally becoming the active nature-loving person that I’d always wanted to be, and I wasn’t guiding my child in that way.
And apparently there was even more I hadn’t thought about. At Shabbat lunch, while 50 of our friends filled their plates with food from my parents’ buffet and wandered outdoors to watch the Blue Angels, women stopped to say hi to the little model and ask how they can sign up their own children. One friend told me that her twins were asked to be part of a Doublemint commercial when they were babies. “I said no. I was feeling very holy at the time and it felt wrong. Royalties were even part of the deal, and I still said no. I try to remind myself, when I feel regret, how holy I was feeling.”
Had I forgotten the Jewish side? I do Jewish outreach and yet I hadn’t felt even a little tingle of, “is this in the spirit of being a frum Jew?” Until I figure it out, at least I have great free professional photos of my baby hanging on my wall.