One of the many diversions available to foreigners in Taiwan is professional modeling; it is not hugely lucrative, but the catalogs make for great souvenirs. The key to being a successful model is being the right height and the right color, the former varying from job to job, but the latter being a fairly fixed idea. Nora, it turns out, was just the right height for a job this week (95 cm), and a most desirable shade of pale. Actually, it's not strictly about skin color, but about looking foreign. Many half-Chinese children model as well, but I know of some mixed-race families where one sibling gets work while the other, more Asian-looking, child does not. The manufacturers know what sells their product: the notion that across the great Pacific little fair-haired, pink-cheeked boys and girls are wearing the very same clothes that hang on Taiwan's department store racks.
So today, Nora and I travelled up to a photo studio in Tainan with a couple other moms and kids, to shoot a children's clothing catalog. The siao jyes oohed and aahed over the kids, and promptly set about dolling them up, teasing their hair and dusting powder on their little noses. It was fun, at least for the first couple hours. It turned out to be a very long shoot, running well past dinner time, and There Were Tears. But the kids were great, the clothes were darling, and the money will be set aside for a rainy day. It's not a way of life I plan to pursue (being a studio mother, that is), and opportunities to model are fairly rare anyway, but perhaps the next time a job comes around Nora will be up for it again. She certainly likes the camera.