Author, Beautiful Lies, (2014)
Runway model for Nina Blanchard of Los Angeles
Ford New York, Fashion Milan and NOVA Models of Munich
Worked for Giorgio Armani on runways in Milan
Appeared in TV commercials for Coca-Cola, Mercedes Benz, and Oil of Olay
Appeared in Vogue, Glamour, and Seventeen
Founder of Jennifer Strickland Ministries; M.A., Writing and Literature, USC
BA, Broadcast Journalism, USC
Mother of three: Olivia, 12, Zach, 11, and Samuel, 3
The Beautiful Lies We are Sold
By Mimi Elliott
The 700 Club
- The First Lie: You are what man thinks of you. When Jennifer was a runway model she lived to please the kings of the modeling industry such as Giorgio Armani. Her body became skeletal, her eyes sunken and hollow as she tried to maintain the industry standards for models. She began to have headaches, blurred eyesight and cystic acne. After becoming a Christian she began to see her value as God intended it to be. Women are made in the image of God; we are not reflections of man.
- The Second Lie: You are what you see in the mirror. To prepare for the Armani fashion shows, Jennifer engaged in eccentric starvation and obsessive exercise. After leaving the modeling industry, she chose to stop fixing her eyes on herself and turned her attention to God and his dreams for her. God delivered her from torturing her body to be thin.
- The Third Lie: You are what magazines tell you. The magazines project an unrealistic image of beauty. The more we turn inward, we feel less than beautiful ourselves. “Despite what the magazines say about you, we find out who we are and what our value is in the reflection of who God is,” reveals Jennifer.
- The Fourth Lie: You are the mask you wear. Although the modeling world offered travel, money and prestige, deep down Jennifer grew to loathe the masquerade. “If I felt degraded or disregarded or disgusted, I had to smile and make nice. I had to stuff my emotions to the point that I became sick,” shares Jennifer. Too many women and girls are afraid to speak the truth about what hurts they have buried because they fear rejection, shame and blame. Jennifer says it took years for her to tell the truth of her experience but when she did, the journey of healing began.
- The Fifth Lie: You are mastered by the media. For girls, the images represented in the media are what they compare themselves to, but the images are not real and girls cannot live up to the images represented. Social media sites are a way in which girls seek approval…they think their likability is related to their online image. They may switch their profile picture to see how many “likes” they get and when they get older they may try more seductive shots to earn approval. Jennifer says, “The Internet can be used for God’s glory or your shame; it is all in how you use it.”
A DREAM COME TRUE
For as long as she can remember, Jennifer has always been drawn to perfection. Her shoes were always lined up in the closet just right, and all of her shirts were neatly folded in her drawer. Jennifer began modeling when she was eight years old to help her become more graceful and coordinated. 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 ten years chasing that flawlessness that attracted her as a child. “I went after perfection until it nearly killed me,” says Jennifer. “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.”
By the time she was 22, Jennifer’s life was spinning out of control. As a runway model for Giorgio Armani, Jennifer was extremely thin. She struggled with depre ssion and wanted to give up. She was looking for acceptance and her life was a mess. “After I did the Armani shows, it seemed that everyone wanted me,” says Jennifer. “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 says.
JOURNEY TO REAL LOVE
Through with runway modeling, Jennifer moved to Munich and began searching for modeling jobs. On the inside she was depressed so she tried to numb the pain. She stayed in bed for long hours while voices in her head ripped at her self-worth. The voices that circled through her head told her she wasn’t good enough, beautiful enough, or perfect enough. One night, Jennifer could no longer take the self-loathing. She thought of ending her life, but she remembered her family and that she was loved. Shortly afterwards an evangelist in a park gave Jennifer a New Testament. He asked her to go to church with him and his friends. When Jennifer arrived at the church she felt loved and comfortable. “They didn’t look at my body or measurements, but at my heart. I didn’t feel like I had to wear any kind of mask when I was with them,” shares Jennifer. She decided to come back to church the following week. At home she began to read her Bible and discovered what Jesus did on the cross for her. A few weeks later, on a mountaintop in Germany, Jennifer gave her heart to Christ.
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…go back to America and your family.” Jennifer had never been told you can’t put a price on beauty. “All my life I was told I could, I was told I should and so it freed me and I left and I never took another picture for money again,” reveals Jennifer. After fifteen years in the modeling industry Jennifer left the modeling world behind.
When she returned home at 23, Jennifer took the money she had made modeling to earn her Master's degree in Writing and Literature. She began teaching school and working with youth. Four years later she met her husband, Shane, who always encouraged her to use her story to help others. Today Jennifer travels the country speaking to women and girls about their true identity in Christ. “My life now has the meaning and purpose I longed for when I was in the modeling industry - to help others discover the beauty that God sees in the heart of every woman and girl, no matter how broken, disheveled, or even perfect she may seem from the outside,” she says.
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