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Don’t Buy the Lie: A model’s story

Jennifer StricklandCosmopolitan sold over 4 million magazines in 2011. And that’s just the print editions. The fashion industry may be booming, but studies show that for most women, viewing a fashion magazine costs them more than the amount on the price tag.70% close the magazine feeling depressed and disgusted with their bodies. They’ve bought more than a magazine; They’ve bought a lie about their own bodies.

This lie can be particularly devastating to teen girls who turn to unhealthy measures to fit themselves into the unattainableĀ mold. The culture tells them their value and means to success is the media’s air-brushed, impossible brand of beauty. It’s an image no one can live up to – not even the models themselves.

Jennifer Strickland knows all too well the damage a warped image of beauty can have. She began modeling at age 8 and signed with a major modeling agency at 17. She traveled the US, Europe and Australia, appearing in fashion magazines and walking runways for the likes of Giorgio Armani.

But the life of the model wasn’t as glamorous as it seemed. She was under enormous pressure to look perfect, receiving criticism and rejection when she didn’t measure up to the ideals of an industry that’s never satisfied.

“I saw how the superficiality and flesh-obsessed world of fashion modeling destroyed the self-image of so many young women,” she said.

She struggled with clients and photographers who treated her like an object they could play with and throw away. To keep up, she developed an eating disorder and turned to drugs to numb the loneliness and depression. Then, the industry’s illusion crashed down around her.

“The ‘beauty’ that my career depended upon finally betrayed me,” she said, “dark circles under my eyes, cystic acne, and a frame so thin that one could see all the ribs down my back; my face and body bore the toll of a business that treated me as a piece of plastic that could be painted up, broken apart, and discarded at will.”

With her life falling apart, she stopped buying the lie. She saw herself for what she was – valuable for herself, not the way she looked. The realization liberated her.

“I embraced beauty that far surpasses the magazines,” she said. “My life is devoted to restoring real value in women and girls.”

Jennifer’s story shatters the illusions built around the glamorous life of ‘beautiful people.’ Conforming to those standards of beauty brought her objectification and abuse. The message she wants every girl to hear is that they are beautiful and valued, not for what they look like, but for who they are.