Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Supermodels for Christ

NPR's story this morning on how the parties will attempt to court the evangelical vote contained the usual rehash of the need for Democrats to portray themselves as conservative on issues such as abortion and gay marriage, even though that will alienate their base in the Reality Community, and the need for Republicans to continue to march to the right even though most of them--save the unelectable Sam Brownback--have already pissed off the evangelicals in one way or another.

Buried in the middle of this, almost as a non-sequitur, was a snippet from a woman named Tammy Bennett, described as decked from head to toe in silver. I'm not going to bother dissecting Ms. Bennett's call for protecting the sanctity of marriage; that was predictable given the context of the story. My attention was piqued much more by the tiny biographical blurb provided:
Bennett is the founder of Makeover Ministries, which she describes as "inspiring women to look good from the inside out and to be supermodels for Christ. And it's based on Proverbs: 'just as water mirrors your face, so your face mirrors your heart.'"

Supermodels for Christ. Supermodels. For Christ.

Where to begin?

Here is the author information submitted by Ms. Bennett on the web page selling her book, Looking Good from the Inside Out:
It wasn't until I actually went to Hollywood to work as an actress that I discovered the true meaning of beautiful. While I was there I met many people who were beautiful on the outside that knew nothing about inner beauty, and though they were famous they were not very well liked because of their ugly attitudes. God used this time to teach me how to look good from the inside out...

I want girls to know what it took me years to discover; beauty is a choice and it all begins with a relationship with Jesus Christ.
When you apply the principles in this book,
you'll become a "SUPER MODEL."

Perhaps it's the failure to acknowledge the existence of people who have plenty of inner beauty but fall short of conventional definitions of physical beauty. Perhaps it's the implication that if (1) your face mirrors your heart and (2) beauty is a choice then (ergo and sum) women who are not supermodel beautiful have chosen to be bad people. Probably it's the combination of those that gives me pause. Inner beauty--the kind I thought Jesus was interested in, rather than the superficial trappings of the world--isn't good enough. If you do not pursue supermodel perfection rather than being content with the face God gave you, you're not following the Bible.

Odd. The only beauty tip I remember Jesus doling out was the admonishment to ditch the sackcloth and ashes and wash your damn face already.

The messages seem contradictory--one the one hand, Bennett remembers the angst of being a teenage girl and not feeling beautiful enough. But rather than promoting the message that girls are intrinsically valuable as unique individuals and are beautiful on the basis of their characters and actions toward other people, she emphasizes--if the table of contents and sample pages are accurate representations of the book's content--the superficial.
Tammy's Tip: Don't forget to apply moisturizer to your neck. You don't want to have a great-looking face attached to a sagging neck.

The horror.

If you want to write a makeover guide for teenaged girls, write a makeup guide. But please, don't try to pass it off as a ministry for making girls more acceptable by covering up their "imperfections" and homogenizing their appearance to conform to societal standards of beauty--standards which, I might add, are primarily driven by the need to be appealing to men by appearing young and fertile. And don't then try to say that it's all for Jesus because the Cover Girl-approved, cosmetic-slathered face is the perfect representation of a Godly heart and the best way for a young woman to demonstrate spirituality. It's the same tired message (beautiful people are good people; conventionally feminine girls are good girls; if your natural appearance falls outside the acceptable range, you must choose to alter it) repackaged in a shiny Christian wrapper (if beauty is a choice and comes from a relationship with Jesus, only Christians can be truly beautiful).


Homer said...

Thank you for alerting me to this important book. I'm going to buy a copy for everyone at work. Two copies for a certain office manager!

Jeffrey said...

I just quoted you at my blog. Your coverage of "supermodels for Christ" was perfect!


Anonymous said...

Holy crap! (seriously did not intend that pun). But honestly, I was so unnerved when I heard this story this morning I actually did a search on this woman and her company (that's how I found your blog). You describe/sound off on this story beautifully. I simply wanted to write her a letter suggesting that she is nuts. As a Christian, I am offended by how people write the dumbest books and exploit Christ for their financial gain. This one takes the cake, man! And yes, Christians say "crap" and can think people are nuts.

forkshy said...

i hope i die before i get wrinkly so they'll let me into heaven. :P

i heard this story on my way to work and this woman bugged me enough that i decided to look up more information on the internet. (your blog was the first google hit under "supermodels for christ.")

you pretty much covered all of the bases, but did you notice that she was described as wearing an entirely silver outfit.

i suppose it must not matter how we dress, jesus only really cares about prefect faces.

Anonymous said...

hmmm...maybe I'll start my own profit oriented faith-based group. How does "Trophy Husbands for Christ" sound?