How to be a successful 'momager'

Yolanda Hadid (left) oversees the modelling careers of daughters Bella (centre) and Gigi.
Yolanda Hadid (left) oversees the modelling careers of daughters Bella (centre) and Gigi. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WASHINGTON • Reality television matriarch Kris Jenner is said to have trademarked "momager", but nothing will stop Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills alumnus Yolanda Hadid from breeding unofficial momagers on her own.

The term refers to a mother who oversees her child's flourishing career, something former model Hadid has done for her daughters, Bella and Gigi, and son, Anwar. Making A Model With Yolanda Hadid, an eight-part series that premiered last Thursday on American television, adopts a maternal approach to creating challenges reminiscent of America's Next Top Model.

Set in New York, it follows six mother-daughter teams as they compete each week to win the daughter a contract with Hadid's management company and the chance to be potentially represented by the prestigious IMG Models.

Hadid's coaching tactics are rather gentle for reality TV. With hushed tones and expressions that let you know she is not mad, but disappointed, she sets an example for fellow helicopter parents to follow.

Here are some ways, inspired by the show, to become a successful momager. Be a "protective mama bear", as Hadid calls herself, but do not be oblivious to your child's flaws. Hadid's daughters are Victoria's Secret Angels and she still told a room full of teenagers that Gigi and Bella are "nothing more or better than you are, so believe in that". Tell sheepish teenagers that you "need to see the tiger" in them.At one point in a montage, Hadid is seen narrowing her eyes at a 14-year-old contestant, Makenzie, while demanding to see the tiger in her.

She later criticises 13-year-old Athena for her blank stare in a photo: "I feel like you look indifferent. I'm not feeling your soul." Do not let your kid grow up too fast. The mothers act as creative directors in the first episode. They had to choose an outfit for their daughters that best captured who they are, run around Times Square with a photographer and return in half an hour with beautiful shots of their daughters.

Each of the 13-year-old contestants, Athena and Breanna, are told to wear high heels and Hadid is not happy about it. "Remember, a 13-year-old in high heels?" Hadid tells Athena's mother, Diana Katoanga.

"It's not age-appropriate. I think it made her uncomfortable because she's obviously not used to wearing high heels." Tell everyone else they are beautiful. Perhaps she got this from former One Direction member Zayn Malik, her daughter Gigi's current beau, but Hadid is all about telling people they are beautiful. After each contestant's introduction, she also tells her colleagues where she could see the girl's career heading: athletic commercials, fashion magazine covers and so on.

Your child will come to appreciate your positivity, even if you do not have valuable connections to a Hadid sister. When Mikayla - who, at 16, is the oldest contestant - wins the challenge, she beams at Hadid. And it was not because of the monetary prize. "I think the hug was worth $5,000," Mikayla says. "She gave me the envelope and I was, like, I like the hug more."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2018, with the headline 'How to be a successful 'momager''. Print Edition | Subscribe