"I don't have the best confidence," says Hannah Abrams, 16, shrugging and offering a small smile. "I feel like a makeover will make people look at me in a different way."
In an effort to build her confidence, Hannah's mother, Tamar, a communications strategist and Huffington Post blogger, has brought her to Jane Pennewell's Falls Church townhouse for a consultation and makeup application on a recent Sunday. In the weeks to follow, Pennewell, an eternally chipper woman who loves to accessorize, will supervise Hannah's salon haircut and take her shopping for a new summer wardrobe. . .
Even if the economy were booming, the idea of a teenager using an image consultant is perplexing, to say the least. But the trend has been taking hold among young girls who have been raised on a steady diet of pop culture, from "The Hills" to "Hannah Montana," girls who are being shaped by an industry that trades in reinvention. . .
"There has definitely been an increase in my number of younger clients," says Lynne Glassman, a D.C.-based image consultant who has clients as young as 9, and recently shared her wisdom with an entire Girl Scout troop.
"I get so many calls from teens," says Rachel Weingarten, a New York-based style consultant who also does marketing and public relations. "It used to be that deb parties were rites of passages. Now, makeovers are the norm.". . .
A dozen D.C.-, New York- and Los Angeles-based image consultants and personal shoppers all report an increase in their number of clients who are minors, despite the flagging economy. To further bolster their business during these lean times, many say they are being more flexible with their fees. Some, like Pennewell, are willing to barter -- Tamar Abrams is writing for the image consultant's Web site in exchange for her daughter's initial consultation ($150) and several hours of shopping ($500 and up).