Models for Christ

As in, fashion models. For Christ. I kid you not. I’d cut and paste some of the text from their website, except it’s one of those excruciating flash-only sites (good pictures, though). Instead, I’ll quote from an article I found on

Since its 1984 founding in New York, Models for Christ has sought to bring faith to fashion – spirituality to an industry that puts a premium on sex appeal. The non-denominational organization has since expanded to 19 other major fashion centers, including Los Angeles, London, Paris, Milan and Tokyo – and hundreds participate.

“This work can lead anyone away from the Lord,” said Jeremiah Johnson, a former model who heads the group’s Miami Beach chapter. “But it doesn’t have to.”

About a dozen people – not just models but also photographers and agents and others in the industry – gather in a circle of maroon chairs in the simple worship space of Calvary Chapel Miami Beach. They sing hymns, read from bright blue paperback Bibles and share their struggles of remaining Christian in the fashion business.

Many talk about their boundaries – refusing to do overtly sexual advertisements, or those for alcohol and cigarettes. They also talk about resisting a professional culture they feel often encourages rampant partying and sex.

“There’s a lot of pressure to do the alcohol ad or get in your underwear or do whatever publication you don’t want to do. But we don’t need to bow down in order to be blessed in what we do,” said Roman Watson, a 29-year-old model who has done work for Ralph Lauren, Nike and Macy’s. “I want to encourage everyone to be a Christian first and a model second.”

Watson said models are often afraid to reveal their moral boundaries on shoots, for fear that it could end their careers. But he urged those gathered at Models for Christ to follow their hearts and they would ultimately be rewarded with work.

“We can be fearful of a client … but we should be fearful of the King of Kings,” he said. “God is able to bless you. He’s got more connections than the entire world.”

My fellow Christians, how many of us can say that we feel pressured to strip down to our underwear at our jobs? (How many of us would like to strip down to our underwear without being pressured?)

Everything in me wants to make more cheap jokes about this, except for one little glimmer of admiration for people who are such strangers in a strange, emaciated, coked-up land. I can’t imagine a profession that is less conducive to the Christian lifestyle than fashion model. Except maybe assassin. So my hat (but not my underwear) is off to my brothers and sisters who endeavor to walk catwalk strut with Christ daily (sorry, couldn’t help it).

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