I begged my mother to take me to auditions, modeling competitions, for headshots, the works. And aside from allowing me to “model” at the Sisterhood Fashion Show at shul, her answer was affirmatively and always, No. At the time, kicking and screaming, I couldn’t understand her persistence to keep me from the sweet taste of glamour and fame that I so craved.
Today, I understand.
What is a girls obsession today with becoming a model? Is it the attention from boys it will ignite, the possibility of being seen on a New York City billboard, or is it just perhaps the affirmation from others that they are in fact, beautiful?
When I was 20, I decided, I didn’t want to be a model anymore. The other long harboring desire I had of being seen as a role model to younger females suddenly awoke in me the reality that models are Not good role models.
What does a model teach?
-Being stick thin is the only type of beauty
-Scantily clad pictures of yourself, 70 feet tall, hovering over Times Square, is a proper way to behave
-You are a body; and the world should see you as just that
-If you are not as beautiful as me, you are not worthy of being immortalized by the world
-I should accomplish no more than that which G-d gave me: my naturally good looks
As harsh as this might sound, and no offense to models, but this was NOT G-d’s intent when He created women. To girls all over the world who envy models and are beating themselves up night after night for not looking like them, here’s a chance at freedom from your thoughts. When Hashem created man (meaning woman and man) He created them in His image. Therefore, all people are created in a g-dlike fashion, with a Divine Soul. This Divine Soul is the spark of Hashem which lives inside each one of us. Each spark is unique and each spark is a piece of Hashem. It is taught then, that each soul is inherently meaningful and special, as each one is a part of our Creator. No one soul is greater than another because every soul is equally connected to G-d. Each one has a unique purpose for being in this world. Hashem gave us bodies to encapsulate our soul and our bodies are meant to be used to elevate the soul. The body, then, is secondary to our soul. It is its casing. Just like a chocolate wrapper covers a chocolate, a Tiffany box cases a diamond, a body covers a soul. The soul is the part to focus on.
Therefore, girls, modeling does the complete opposite of this. It shows us off only for our packaging. Our soul is deep inside, screaming for a chance to be recognized. It is saying “I’m the real you! Remember me!! I’m what you want!” I, at 20 years old, knew that I didn’t want to be seen as only my body. I didn’t want to be another reason for girls to beat themselves up at night, I didn’t want guys to ogle at my skin or want me only for my legs. I wanted to show off my soul, I wanted to show off my essence.
Beauty does not come in one flavor; it varies from big to small, dark to light. Models are, at the end of the day, monotonous. If Hashem had wanted us all to look alike, He would have made it that way. Instead, He gave us a gift. A gift of individuality. Why squash it? Relish it.
Lastly, we all have a mission in this world. And while there is nothing wrong with recognizing natural beauty when we see it, there is something to be said about pushing ourselves to accomplish more. Don’t settle for just that which you were given. Find what your talents are and work on them. See how good it feels when you accomplish something you worked at.
So, who are true role MODELS? The ones who inspire girls to love their flavor of beauty, the ones who seek to improve and present their souls in the most elevated way, and the ones who recognize that they are divinely unique, from the Inside Out.