Forest Park’s public library teamed up with Forest Park-based Model Esteem, 7451 W. Madison St., to host a Sept. 4 workshop to show youth ages 11 to 13 how modeling can improve their self-esteem and body image.

The program is part of the library youth service department’s efforts to address concerns about teens having negative body images. This fits into Model Esteem’s mission of providing modeling services for people who may not look like stereotypical models, and generally promoting diversity and self-esteem.

The workshop plan was to touch on the business aspects of modeling and the fundamentals of posing and walking on the runway. While it was free, registration was required due to COVID-19 capacity limits. 

According to the library blog post, the staff saw tackling body image issues as a logical follow-up to earlier efforts to help kids reacclimate to in-person learning. The library cited a February 2021 Today’s Parent magazine article, which reported that kids as young as three years old can experience body image issues, and that those issues only get worse as kids get older.

The Youth Services department put together a list of books from the library collection featuring kids who face self-image issues because of factors such as weight, hair texture, skin tone and physical disabilities. They also worked with Model Esteem to set up the workshop. 

Owner Shettima Webb (right) and her son Montay Curtain at the opening of Model Esteem, 7451 Madison St., on Sept. 19, 2020. | Photo by Jill Wagner

The company was founded by Shettima Webb, of Hillside. It offers photoshoots and consultations, as well as classes on makeup and skincare, and runway and posing for aspiring and professional models. According to the company’s website, Webb was bullied for her looks as a child, but modeling helped her find confidence. She previously told the Review that she made a point of offering her classes to people of all shapes and sizes.

“I want to bring people together to talk about our youth and women, especially women loving themselves,” she said last fall. “Women face so many pressures to be a certain way or look a certain way. I want to showcase all types of beauty.”

Under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s executive order, masks are required indoors in public spaces – but even before then, the library planned to require all activity participants to wear masks, since only kids ages 12 and up are currently eligible to get vaccinated. 

To find out more about the Forest Park Public Library’s resources for kids and young adults, visit