Idol Chatter

Sure, there are plenty of Christians in fashion–Christian Lacroix, Christian Louboutin, etc.–but what about Christian models? Well it seems the New York Observer recently attended a meeting of the NYC branch of Models for Christ.
Started by model Jeff Calenberg in the mid-’80s after he experienced his own “temptation” in the metaphorical desert of Milan, the group now includes more than 1,000 members–including photographers, agents and designers–with meetings in Los Angeles and Miami.
The group tackles regular worship and discussion topics such as marriage and the afterlife, but also deals with finding spiritual solutions and resolutions to industry-specific problems such as eating disorders and self-esteem problems. “Your boss probably doesn’t care if you don’t fit into your 40 regular suit,” explains Sean Whalen, one of the group’s core leaders. “Where the girls–and even guys–have to fit into certain clothes, and if they gain weight or lose weight, it messes with their emotions and their self-esteem, and who they are and their identity.”

The New York group recently renamed itself Paradox to appeal to a “broader audience.” As Whalen says, “We’re a bunch of people from New York City’s fashion industry, here to seek in our God in this crazy, crazy industry. God in fashion is a paradox in itself. So that’s what we do, and that’s who we are.”
But if Models for Christ feel they are a Paradox, then they are in good company. Many soap opera stars, including Austin Peck and Hunter Tylo, are devout Christians–and yet portray scandilicious adulterers, thieves, and manipulators.
And the idea of a Christian model isn’t that foreign to the MTV generation, who are familiar with Christian model Britt on the reality show “8th & Ocean.”
In fact, a group of male Latter-Day Saint missionaries who’ve just returned to the U.S. have turned the Models for Christ concept on its head a bit by releasing a controversial calendar called “Men on a Mission.”
“Usually seen riding their bicycles and preaching door-to-door, these hunky young men of faith explode with sexuality on each calendar page,” reads a press release on the site. “Hand-selected for their striking appearances and powerful spiritual commitment, the ‘devout dozen’ are stepping away from the Mormon traditions of modest dress, and ‘baring their testimony’ to demonstrate that they can have strong faith and be proud of who they are, both with a sense of individualism and a sense of humor.”
Certainly, these models and Mormons are people of faith, but I can’t help but think that attendence (at whatever house of worship these models and Mormons attend) might increase with such an eye-catching flock of the faithful.

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