Author, Girl Perfect, Excel Books, 2008
Jennifer's website: www.JenniferStrickland.net
Runway model for Ford Models NYC, Nina Blanchard of Los Angeles, Fashion Model Management of Milan and NOVA Models of Munich
Worked for Georgio Armani on runways in Milan
TV commercial appearances: Oil of Olay, Mercedes Benz, Converse, Cherry Coke, Fanta Orange, Taco Bell and Vibrance shampoo
Magazine appearances: Teen, Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Glamour
Married with two children
Earned M.A. in writing and literature from California State University, San Marcos, Cal.
Earned B.A. in broadcast journalism from University of Southern California
Run Away from Runway Ideals
By Mimi Elliott
The 700 Club
For as long as she can remember, Jennifer Strickland has always been drawn to perfection. Her shoes were always lined in the closet just right, and all of her shirts were neatly folded in her drawer. She wore wraparound braces with headgear in elementary school.
Jennifer’s mom signed her up for modeling class at a local charm school to help her become more graceful and coordinated. Surprisingly, she loved it! Eventually modeling school became a world in which she fit. At 17, Jennifer was offered a modeling contract from world-renowned agent, Nina Blanchard, and an academic scholarship to the University of Southern California.
After graduating from high school, the next four years were a whirlwind: working in Europe in the summer, living in Germany, Paris, Greece, Australia and Milan, then coming back to Los Angeles for school in the fall. She juggled TV commercials, ad campaigns, catalogs and classes. Without realizing it, Jennifer spent the next 10 years chasing that flawlessness that attracted her as a child.
“I went after perfection until it nearly killed me,” Jennifer said. “I went after the perfect size, the perfect shape, the perfect image, the perfect look, being the perfect daughter, taking the perfect path and making the perfect escape.”
“As long as everything is pretty on the outside in the modeling world, you’re ok,” Jennifer said. “You’ll get the affirmation you are looking for.” She said that the world today is more interested in image than it is in reality.
“Everyone wants to believe that the girl in the picture is as satisfied as she looks,” Jennifer said. “It’s only an image, a snapshot. And beneath the image, we all want someone to care.”
By the time she was 22, Jennifer’s life was spinning out of control. As a runway model for Georgio Armani, Jennifer was extremely thin. She struggled with eating disorders, depression, drinking and drugs. She was looking for acceptance and her life was a mess.
“After I did the Armani shows, it seemed that everyone wanted me,” Jennifer said. “I was flying all over the place for jobs.”
But her body began to give out: her hair turned brittle and fell out in clumps, her eye sockets were dark and the jobs soon dropped off. Photographers couldn’t take pictures of her anorexic body. When she went home for Christmas, Jennifer’s mom began feeding her. She gained four pounds. After Christmas, Jennifer was on the runway modeling. Armani tugged at her skirt and with a flick of his hand, a stylist led her off the stage. When she returned to the agency, Jennifer learned that she lost not only Armani’s job, but all of her jobs.
“There was something that hurt that little girl inside of me that wanted to be perfect for everyone else,” she said.
THE WIDE ROAD TO DESTRUCTION
Through with runway modeling, Jennifer moved to Munich. One day an evangelist named Michael gave Jennifer a Bible. She began reading about the wide road to destruction and the narrow road to heaven.
“I knew I was on the wide road, but I didn’t know how to get off,” she said.
That was the first time she had ever read about the Gospel and what Jesus did on the cross for her. After accepting Jesus into her heart, Jennifer went to church and prayed with a pastor.
Then one day a stranger saw Jennifer on her way to work with her portfolio in hand and a mini skirt on. He said, “You cannot sell beauty.”
So she turned around and never took another photo for money again.
Jennifer came back to the U.S. when she was 23, met her husband Shane when she was 26, but it took years before she was healed completely.
“God didn’t allow me to write the book, Girl Perfect, until I was completely free,” Jennifer said.
Jennifer said that she was abused by people in the modeling industry and it was wrong. She wants young girls to understand that their body is a temple of God.
“It will disappear one day,” Jennifer said. “But what is the state of your spirit? Christ in me. That’s the only beauty that will last.”
More and more girls have no healthy male role models in their lives and struggle with eating disorders. As Jennifer shares her story with young women across the country, she finds that girls are destroying their bodies, even in churches.
“I want to shatter the perfect image, to tell the girls the truth about the image behind the girls in the magazines, behind the scenes. I really want this generation of girls to know this. I want girls to identify the lies and understand that your body is not your worth. The lies are screaming at them so loudly they can’t hear the voice of God,” Jennifer said.
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