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July 17, 2009


Cathy Alter, Washington Post - Image consultants -- who act as personal shoppers, closet cullers and makeup advisers -- say their business is thriving among clients of high school age and younger.

"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).


Anonymous Mairead said...

Note that the family names, possibly excepting Pennewell, are 'poetic' names typical of those that were assigned to Ashkenazi Jews: Alter (older), Abrams (Abraham's), Glassman (possibly from glatt, meaning smooth, clean, or perfect), Weingarten (wine garden).

Is this trend of teenagers using image consultants limited to JAPs (Jewish American Princesses - the derisive name among Jews for young American-Ashkenazi women who have a pathological sense of entitlement), or is it a reflection of a more widespread pathology? It would be interesting to know.

July 17, 2009 11:40 AM  

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