Questions & Answers
Girl Perfect is PG-13 and is impactful for women and teen girls. It's a great mom-daughter read. If the mom believes her younger daughter is ready for the content, the best case scenario is for Mom to read it first and then discuss the content with her daughter. The Girl Perfect Study Guide is also PG-13. Because of the depth of material, I recommend it for high school girls and up. It is a 6-12 week study that will help women and girls gain a healthy perspective of their bodies, become free from perfectionism, understand the real meaning of beauty, and be set free from issues surrounding eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, or past hurts that hinder present fulfillment. Women in their 20s and up who have dealt with poor self-image or are seeking greater fulfillment in their relationships will benefit greatly from the Study Guide.
I generally speak to audiences of junior high and up, but am open to elementary platforms. I am very sensitive to the ages and genders in my audience. When younger girls are present, I am careful to not introduce them to issues their parents have perhaps not explained yet. Because of my background, however, I prefer to be free to cover the more challenging topics facing the generation -- from sexual purity to drug and alcohol abuse to eating disorders, self-harm, and the like -- yet I always double check to make sure the attendees have the maturity level to handle that type of content.
I think anything is possible! I do believe, however, that it is a very difficult and often dangerous industry for young women. The temptations to fall into eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual immorality and to be sexually abused are huge, not to mention the natural temptation to begin believing that your looks are your value – which is a lie that can affect a person for the rest of her life. Often when girls and women are taught that their outward appearance is the measure of their worth, they become insecure and self-focused. Models receive an enormous amount of approval and rejection for their outward appearance. This can be a volatile environment for a young woman to develop a strong sense of self-worth; it can lead to poor body image, depression, and an intense longing to be loved and affirmed as she is – without looking perfect. Personally, I left the business because deep down I knew that modeling required me to be someone who I wasn’t at the core; it required me to wear masks instead of being authentic. Nevertheless, I believe that if God has specifically called a young woman to work in the modeling industry, if she has the right support system (a parent or wise companion who is willing to be by her side and travel with her everywhere she goes), then she could possibly be a “light” in that world. Under very few circumstances, however, would I see it as beneficial for her to miss the chance of going to college, as many models do. I believe girls should be encouraged to get their education, establish a sense of self-worth apart from their appearance, discover their gifts, talents and abilities, and learn what it is to shine their light from the inside out, by allowing Christ to be their source of beauty and power.
I do understand this comment, but at the same time I suffered so much with my self-image and saw so many girls suffer with theirs, that I can I fully relate to the frustration of not measuring up to the standard of beauty as presented by the media. I experienced a lot of rejection for the imperfections in my physical appearance when I was modeling. In addition, in my last year of modeling and the years after leaving the business, I had tremendous problems with cystic acne, as well as serious weight concerns – from being anorexic. My body went through a lot, and I had to dig very, very deep for an understanding of what it is to be truly beautiful from the inside out. In search of the real meaning of beauty and how it relates to happiness, I've studied the Bible in depth, and I have found the power available to every woman and girl on earth, which is the power of finding our worth in God. Today, I am a mother of three, and I know what it is to be frustrated by the changes in my body, to be aging and changing! Like every woman, I have struggled with that. It has been hard to accept myself “imperfect". But I have realized that I only see myself critically when I am comparing myself to other women or to the media's unrealistic images of beauty. When I look at myself through the eyes of God, I see myself as made in His image, reflecting His heart in a world that needs more "real," authentic beauty and less airbrushed illusions. The more we see ourselves through God’s eyes, the more we realize that beauty begins in the heart and spills out through our behavior. If we are ugly in the way we treat people and the choices we make, we are not beautiful, no matter how we look. But if we treat people with kindness, compassion, and grace, people are drawn to us. The beauty that we have within is the only kind of beauty that grows stronger and more powerful with time, and that kind of beauty is available to everyone.
The agents in the modeling industry did not encourage my parents to attend photo shoots, jobs, or trips with me. My parents were led to believe that my agents in Europe would watch out for me, and remained at home while I traveled abroad. The majority of my years traveling abroad were spent after I turned eighteen. Nevertheless, it is our shared belief now that the modeling industry creates an unsafe environment for young women. If young girls pursue modeling, a parent or wise companion should accompany her to every single job, even after she is eighteen. It is not wise for young women to be modeling in foreign countries on their own; too many things can happen – as you’ll read in my book, Girl Perfect.
My parents are very supportive of my work today. Like me, they believe that my life experience as a model, however painful at times, has given me the voice to speak to young women on the topics of real beauty and worth. Working through our relationship has also fueled much of my teaching on forgiveness, releasing shame, and moving on from our pasts to our purpose.
This question is the hardest one that I ever get, because I would personally not encourage my daughter to become a model. To find out why, read my book, Girl Perfect – the reasons are on every page. I have a very tender soul, and so does my daughter, so I wouldn’t recommend any environment for her that would tamper with her developing a healthy self-image. But at the same time, I realize that God works through people in the modeling industry to minister to others. My suggestion to moms whose daughters want to pursue modeling is to read my book first, have your daughter read it, then really delve into the motivations you have for getting her into the modeling industry. Be real with yourself and with her: Is it for the money? Is it for the opportunity to be seen? Is it for the glamour and prestige? Or is it because you both truly believe God has gifted her with strength, courage, and beauty, and she will be a reflection of His standards in a business that doesn’t see enough of that? Do you plan on going with her to each and every interview, audition, photo shoot, and job, regardless of the distance or cost? What are her other gifts and talents, aside from her looks? What is she good at and passionate about? Will she have to set those things, such as sports, college, music, etc., aside in order to put modeling first? What is best for HER? Are you and her father comfortable with older men taking photos of her? Are you and is she ready and willing to say NO to certain outfits, requests for sexually seductive shots of her, etc? Is she already someone who is longing for affirmation from men? Does she have sexual or any kind of abuse in her background which may lead her to seek approval from men and therefore compromise her purity? What are your standards of purity for her? What are HER standards? What are HER dreams? Are her dreams of becoming a model based upon the illusion of glamour presented by the world, or do you think these are the dreams her heavenly Father put in her heart? What do you think are God’s dreams for her life? I believe the answers to these questions can help you discern what is best for her. If you choose to pursue modeling for your daughter, I suggest you connect with Christians in the industry. AMTC and Models for Christ are good resources.
The best resources I can offer your daughter are my books, More Beautiful Than You Know, Girl Perfect, the Girl Perfect Study Guide, and the Documentary. These resources go in depth about the issues of beauty and worth presented by the media, versus the real, lasting beauty we can develop in Christ. I encourage you to pray for her every day, to model real beauty in your own behavior, wardrobe, purity and faith. I would also encourage you to have strict standards of modesty in the way she dresses and presents herself, as long as she is under your roof. Regarding the desire to be noticed by boys, the most important relationship she has is with her father. That relationship, if possible, must be nurtured; if not with her biological father, than with a faithful man who can model for her how she deserves to be treated by a man. Clearly, her involvement in a good youth group where she is held accountable for her faith and behavior is also important. I also want to encourage you that hope, healing, and transformation IS possible in your daughter’s life, no matter the depth of her suffering. She can be set free from the things that are hindering her. For more information on how to get her the best counseling, please refer to our Counseling Referrals.
I feel so alone. I am (fill in the blank) suffering from an eating disorder, a cutter, sexually abused, unfaithful to my husband, in an unhappy marriage, depressed, addicted to drugs... Can you help me?
I want to encourage you that you are not alone. You are loved by your heavenly Father and He has dreams and plans for your life. Our ministry is devoted to creating events, resources, and experiences that reconnect people with the heart of God. Finding your value, identity, and purpose in Him is the answer. I created the resources in our online store for this very purpose -- to help you heal and inspire you to move from pain to purpose. The Beautiful Lies book, study, and video series were created to help you find your identity in God's eyes. The Girl Perfect resources were made to hold your hand on the journey to forgiveness, fulfillment, and freedom. Finally, the Counseling Referrals page and Recommended Reading can point you in the right direction -- take a good look at them -- they are full of information for you.
Jennifer occasionally mentors girls or women in her local community. She feels strongly, however, that her greatest calling is to her own daughter, and to speaking and writing. She is not a counselor, but she does believe wholeheartedly in the power of group Bible study, mentoring, and counseling. She encourages you to get plugged into your local community in these areas. References for counselors can be found on the Counseling Referrals page.
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When I am interviewed in secular settings, I am always careful to respect the boundaries of that environment. Giving my life to Christ was my personal turning point. But the principals of true beauty, the profound effects of media on young people, and the issues we all have with value, identity, and purpose are universal. I am equipped to speak in secular environments as a spokesperson for women’s true beauty and value, as well as the power of forgiveness, moving on from our pasts, and turning our pain into purpose. I obtained two Bachelor’s degrees in Broadcast Journalism and International Relations from USC and went on to teach on a secular university campus while attaining my Master’s. These environments gave me the skill set to speak to people of all walks of life. Ultimately, my heart is that all people discover their true value, identity, and purpose, and find the fulfilling lives available to them.
I have separate messages that I give for faith-based and non-faith based schools. It is my commitment to the school or any setting where I speak to honor their boundaries so that the audience gets the most out of my presentation. In public schools, I often share my experiences in the modeling industry as a way to unveil for the students the difference between getting our value from our appearance and getting it from the way we treat others. I also use my journey as a runway model to show the students the dangers we face when we put pressure on ourselves to be perfect. I teach them that they too can change their lives if they reach a point of despair by calling out for help. I empower them to understand it is okay to change their minds and pursue a completely different path for their lives. I want my attendees to walk away inspired to find the healthiest, best dream for themselves, instead of the image of success as portrayed by Hollywood. My presentation helps them recognize that true success means fulfillment, and fulfillment comes from serving others.
The Beautiful Lies book, study, and video series are great for women who have some experience under their belts. I suggest them for women in their mid-20s and up. More Beautiful Than You Know is ideal for teens and college-age girls. Girl Perfect is great for both women and girls, 13 and up. The Docudrama is PG – so it is accessible to elementary school girls all the way up to women in their 100s!
Some people may not be able to attend an event to hear me share my story in person, and some groups cannot invite a live speaker for their event. So we produced the docudrama to serve both audiences. Some groups have been successful by showing the docudrama the night before I come to speak, or by showing it to their girls’ group or for a mom-daughter night. Others have used it as an introductory session to the Girl Perfect or Beautiful Lies Bible study. Others still have used it as a fundraising tool for their projects. For example, House of Hope International rented out a theatre and showed it for their fundraising event. My hope is that the docudrama can be used to help people see the power of faith in a person’s life, and inspire others that they too can experience healing from their pasts and the freedom to pursue a life of purpose.