It must be so strange for kids who work as stock photography models. Most kids only have to struggle through the routine confusions of math homework or playground squabbles - not having to wonder why they have to put this bowl of spaghetti on their faces, or bang their foreheads against that chalkboard labeled 'I AM DUM', or sit in this rusty bucket, or be embraced by that terrifyingly be-lipsticked old woman making kissy-faces. It isn't for stock-photo kids to question why, it is theirs to do and die. And by 'die', I mean 'be photographed in bizarre and weirdly troubling ways'.
1. The Thinker
This child is clearly old enough to understand the indignity he's being subjected to. I'm not sure what he's thinking about here, but I'm guessing it's something along the lines of, "All the money I get for this better go straight into my college account instead of getting flushed down the metaphorical toilet of my mother's Mommy Juice fund."
2. Taking a lesson from "Math is Hard" Barbie
This one is creepy in the underlying attitude it's suggesting. I don't mean to suggest that girls should never struggle with math, because I am proof positive that this is not the case. I do however mean to suggest that it's not strictly necessary to suggest via the medium of photography that brief encounters with math turn girls into hyperbolically baffled buffoons. This is the least natural expression of confusion I have ever seen on a human face, and I have sat through the human cartoons at Fox News feigning confusion over how anyone could possibly want to see a black Santa Claus.
3. 1001 nights of facepalming
It would have been way too easy to make this article "10 ridiculously offensive white kids in stereotyped costumes from other cultures". Some of the models may in fact be white-passing, but I can pretty well say the costumes are all about as authentic as Taco Bell is an example of heirloom Mexican cuisine.
Side note: this photographer's other work heavily features chipmunks in bizarre costumes, which may warrant another post at some point in the future. Preferably after a few stiff drinks.
4. Broads, am I right?
Try not to get distracted by the weirdly heavy short-sleeve sweaters in this pic. Somewhere, someone thought the world need more pictures of a mom blowing cigarette smoke in her asthmatic daughter's face as she puffs on her inhaler. Thanks, Creepy Smoking Mom Photographer.
5. "Happy Family"
Hopefully it is an accident that this photo, labeled "happy family", was taken with the teenage boy in a stereotypically expectant father-y paternal, protective pose. Another label on it is "family vacation", which makes me want to know where this vacation spot is so I can be sure to never, ever go there.
The title for this entry is courtesy of my spouse, who looked over at my computer screen right after I'd come across this picture and was staring at it in shock. I defy you to tell me that this photographer didn't know exactly what he was doing.
7. Fat Man
I'm not sure which is more egregious: the image of a chubby boy weeping over a bathroom scale, or the outrageous level of Photoshop at play here. Or maybe it's ...
8. And Little Boy
... the fact that this piece in the same shoot refers to the Photoshopped model as "Adorable eight year old boy on scale very thin anorexia nervosa" whereas the previous one refers to him as "Morbidly obese fat child on scale crying". Eating disorders = adorable, everyone!!
9. This baby was into cultural appropriation before it was cool, also before he was out of diapers.
Shoutout to all the people in the comments who are going to try to convince me that this is OK because Pocahontas is this baby's favorite Disney princess. Also: why are there maracas? WHY?!
10. Great photography speaks for itself. So, unfortunately, does really bizarre photography.
Here we are - the stock photograph that set me off on this quest. The face that launched a thousand cries of "SERIOUSLY?" from my mouth-hole. As we all know, homeless children prefer to dine while seated in recycling bins, and also, they cram entire chicken thighs into their mouths at once. Homeless children also dress themselves in pristine white clothing that is obviously in A+ condition except for where someone took a pair of scissors to it in the parts of the garment least likely to experience wear and tear (when was the last time you wore through the inner upper arm of a t-shirt?) No one understands the plight of homeless youth quite the same way that a stock photographer does, and that is probably a very good thing.