To say I have struggled with beauty since I was a model would be a lie. It started way before then–the first time one of my parent’s friends said I was pretty as if I wasn’t in the room, all the times people treated me kinder when I smiled at them, the first time a coach told me I should wear more dresses, the first time my mom told me not to cut my hair so short. But living a life that doesn’t fully depend on looks cannot easily relate to a livelihood dependent on maintaining good looks. I thought the hardest part of the fashion industry would be resisting drugs and partying. I had no idea the real problem would slip in undetected and distort the way I saw everything.
What’s cost-effective for them is costly for us.
Beauty is currency in the fashion industry. It does not have to be conventional beauty in the sense that they will excuse a gap in your front teeth or an odd placement of features, as compared to their typical wide-set eyes, small nose, and huge smile preference. But if you don’t bring the overall beauty that fits the industry’s mold, then don’t come. If you aren’t between 5’9″ and 5’10” and close to 100 pounds, hopefully under the max bust-waist-hip measurements of 35-25-35 inches, then forget it. You’re out. Go pursue commercial modeling or acting instead. Don’t expect to walk a runway or wear sample sizes for designers unless you fit the sample size mold.
It’s cost-effective for them to have one set of next season’s collection to travel with, but it’s costly for us. It works for them because not one model’s body shape will take away from the garment because, at 5’10” and 100 pounds, women do not maintain a body shape outside of the stature of her bones.
When the body starts to change, the fear sets in.
Sex is also currency in the fashion industry. Obviously, sex sells across the board in most industries. Even dentists are advertising their expertise in giving their patients sexy teeth. Teeth, I tell you. Sexy teeth. Read about that here. You will stand out like a high-maintenance diva if it is against your morals for strangers or colleagues of both sexes to see you undress and then be undressed. You won’t be a right fit for most clients if you are modest. Which means you won’t make much money for the agency. And if you aren’t willing to compromise, someone else or fifty someone elses will.
Since there are only three major types of advertising to consider modeling for: editorial/runway, commercial, swimsuit and lingerie, you have to find one of those to fit into if you are serious about your career. If you’re a flat-chested woman, you have more power to branch out into editorial and not be cornered as a swimsuit and lingerie model right out the gate. And you can definitely try to make a career out of more specialized work as a parts model, fitness model, or a promotional model. Usually though, you need to pick a mold and get in it and stay consistent within it to maintain an income.
The toughest part about fitting into a physical mold (for some) is when a girl’s body begins to change into a woman’s. Most models start their careers as children, as teenagers. When their body starts to change with puberty and adulthood, the fear sets in. What is happening? Am I supposed to stay thin? How thin? Is my body naturally supposed to have more weight in my hips? Am I overeating and losing control? Am I naturally thin? Or am I just used to telling my body what to look like through the food I withhold from it?
We are called to fit into one design: God’s will.
As Christians, we must relate to our bodies differently than fashion, beauty, diet, and celebrity culture’s standards. Sex and beauty are not the currencies of citizens of heaven, God’s grace is. God’s economy rests on the foundation of his free gift of grace. Unmerited favor is offered for those willing to recognize their sin within and look to Him for help in turning away from it. This free gift comes only because God is good, not because we think we are good.
We are justified (forgiven) because of Jesus’s atonement on the cross, not because of how beautiful or sexy we appear to be. We are called to live according to a counter-cultural collection of beliefs carried out by the one model we should try to imitate: a sinless life of God’s one and only Son, Jesus.
For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession. Deuteronomy 14:2
We are called to fit into one design: God’s will.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
We must treat our bodies differently than we did if/when we were not following Jesus.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, h0ly and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1
We must treat our bodies as if the Spirit truly dwells within us if we believe He does.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
In the past, I have not treated my body as a holy, treasured possession. I had not broken away from the world’s beauty standards for women. I had not considered how to treat my body in a way that would please God, its Creator. And after reading the exacting specifications and exquisite details in which God commanded His temple to be built, before the Holy Spirit rushed into us instead of remaining in a temple building, I know I have not treated my body with the care required of a temple of God.
Beauty is not a fruit of the spirit.
God is teaching me how to stop justifying everything according to its outward beauty. And, no, my life’s purpose is not to eat all day like a caterpillar until I’m sufficiently plump. Though you might think that if you had a peek into my COVID-life. And God’s will is not for me to then take a big nap and stretch my wings to emerge a winged beauty of a butterfly–my only goal then to flutter from flower to flower all day. My life’s purpose is different. God has called me to prepare myself for eternal life in heaven by glorifying Him, my Creator, while I’m here. God calls us all to live modeled by the Maker.
My goal cannot be to appear beautiful. God will bring the beauty (not according to what we first think is beautiful), but outward beauty cannot be what we are after. We must be after His heart. Relationship with Him is beautiful–not because we trimmed our biceps and triceps this summer or because our lash extensions and eyebrow threading are on point. Beauty is not a fruit of the spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
Yet fruit, abiding in the vine and flourishing with life to provide nourishment, is beautiful.
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5
Here is what God is teaching me about true beauty through one caterpillar turned butterfly. Like the butterfly, I can be beautiful and free, but it won’t come from me. Any beautiful, bountiful fruit that comes from me is because of His Spirit in me, who sets me free.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2
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