A clever stroke of brush, dark lipstick, tight tube tops to create a false cleavage and coloured lenses — that’s what Delhi admakers are using to turn a tween into a woman in a jiffy. Girls as young as 11 are being passed of as twenty-somethings in print advertisements for anti-acne creams, cosmetics and bridal wear, and no one is complaining.
“Abroad, girls start modelling as young as 13 or 14, and become a known face by 18 or 19. In India too, cosmetic and skincare brands prefer young models because their skin is supple and flawless. There’s a fresh appeal to their face,” says fashion photographer Rahul Dutta. Rajnish Rathi, editor, Wedding Affairs magazine says, “There are girls as young as 14 and 15 who are doing bridal, makeup and jewellery ads. There’s certainly a rising demand for innocent faces that can be made to look in their twenties.”
Model coordinators say they get many such requests. “Cosmetic companies are looking for girls as young as 13. Once they are 18 or 19, they are shown the door. The reason is that creams, soaps and cosmetic ads require soft, young faces,” says Pranav Awasthi, director, Glitz Model Management. They add that clients pay less to these youngsters when compared to adult models doing the same shoots.
One such young-turned-old face is Delhi-based Malvika Singh, 14, a student of class 9. She first got a portfolio when she was all of 11, and has done shoots for fashion and beauty magazines, corporate films and local designers. “I love to dress up and always wanted to model,” she says. Another 14-year-old, Aarti Chhikara, is used to playing 20 plus in ads.
“She started modelling when she was only three. Now, she is ready to do ads meant for older women. She is doing two jewellery ads for leading jewellers and has many bridal wear shows to her credit,” says her mother, Dolly Chhikara, proudly. Child welfare activists, however, slam the trend. “It’s an unhealthy practice and takes away the girls’ childhood and innocence,” says Nidhi Bhardwaj, a child rights activist.
At 167cms, she easily passes off as a 20-22 year old after makeup. She has to her credit two ads for leading jewellers and several bridal wear shows. “Her height is an advantage and we make sure she looks years older through makeup,” says her mother, Dolly Chhikara.
A regular on the ad block, she was 11 when this picture was taken. “Since she did not have a real cleavage then (Hoon is now 14), a tight top made sure she passed off as a 20-year-old,” says her mother, Anita Hoon.
What the law says
There’s no clear law on the minimum age for modelling, but agencies make it mandatory for minors to produce an NOC from their parents
Usually, girls aged 12-16 are paid Rs 1,500 to Rs 10,000 for a shoot, depending on the brand.