The Skin You’re In
by Rachel Lee Carter
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” – Psalm 139:13Ð14
I didn’t always think of myself as “wonderfully made.” Typical? Yes. But wonderful? No. I was a gangly child with extra-long limbs. Second tallest in my sixth-grade class, including the boys. My knees were knobby and huge. In fact, I had a defect in my knees called Osgood-Schlatter Disease that required me to wear a brace on my right leg to school. As if that weren’t humiliating enough, I weighed 87 pounds and was 5’7″. I had numerous nicknames, including Beanpole and Toothpick.
Couple my stick figure and knee issues with a bad perm, and you can guess I didn’t start off “model material.” My parents couldn’t afford the latest trends, so I had to make do with what I had. Then there was puberty. My skin stayed broken-out, and I thought I’d never outgrow it. Oh, and did I mention I also had to wear glasses, and my two front teeth overlapped one another? I needed braces for a while but didn’t get them until seventh grade.
When I did finally get braces, I attracted new nicknames; words like metal-mouth, iron-jaws and brace-face still ring in my ears. Those were painful and emotional years. Wonderfully made? You’d have been hard-pressed to convince me of this back then.
I say all of this so you will understand that I know what it means to suffer from self-esteem issues. I suppose God allowed me to go through that period of my life so I could relate to those who experience it now.
I would struggle with these issues, along with my weight, throughout my career. But God could and would lead me out of the unhealthy self-image I had adopted. Until I accepted His creation as a masterpiece, I dealt with the painful blows of the modeling industry—too fat, too tanned, too pale, bad skin. My bookers should have just said, “too ugly” . . . because that’s how I felt.
One year, while working in Miami, I began dealing with a chronic skin condition called rosacea. A dermatologist put me on a prescription topical facial cream, but it didn’t work. I changed my diet, cleaned my face with mild solutions, and did my best to keep out of the sun—all to no avail. My agency was concerned about this ongoing problem. They were hesitant to give me work, but I insisted it was clearing up. It wasn’t.
I booked a job for a Swedish magazine. It was one of those “this doesn’t feel like a job” jobs. It was about spa treatments, and I would be soaking in a hot tub dotted with candles. It was relaxing and beautiful, and I found it hard to imagine I was getting paid so well to shoot it.
A few days later my agent called me in. I knew he wanted to see improvements in my skin. My blood pressure shot up. I cleaned my skin carefully and went in to see him.
He was busy, and I could see work was abundant; I just wasn’t getting much of it. He turned and examined me carefully and explained that the Swedish client refused to pay me. “They’re claiming the film is worthless because of your skin, and this is unacceptable.” The words mortified and embarrassed me. I didn’t provide an excuse; I just agreed it was unacceptable. He dismissed me and I left. Before I could get into the elevator, tears welled up in my eyes. My insides were screaming at God and questioning, Why? Why is this happening? I went home to my roommates, and they both flooded me with compassion. They knew my struggle, and like always, they knelt and prayed with me that if God called me to modeling, He would heal my skin.
God cares about all aspects of our lives. He wants us to turn to Him in our need—whether it’s for favorable results for a medical test or a good grade on a math test. He wanted me to run to Him, turn it over to Him, and trust Him with the answer. He did heal me. But if He hadn’t, I had learned to trust Him. I chose to follow God’s will for my life, whatever that looked like. I also discovered that my identity was not in what I saw in the mirror; it was in Christ. He made me just as I am. I am still tall and skinny, I still wear glasses when I read, I still break out, and I still have bumps on my knees. But I—like you—am wonderfully made.
Rachel is the President of Modeling Christ; (www.ModelingChrist.com)
an organization addressing the issues and needs of both participants in
the modeling industry, and the world it influences. She has become a
popular women’s and youth conference speaker addressing issues like
modesty, purity, evangelism and embracing one’s past. She is also a
former contestant of the Miss Teen USA and Mrs. United States pageants.
Her book, Fashioned by Faith
an international model uncovers the truth about modesty and style
(Thomas Nelson, May 2011) is available at bookstores everywhere.