Every Monday, from now until its release on April 15, I’m giving away an autographed copy of A Broken Kind of Beautiful. Congratulations to last week’s winner, Cynthia from Pennsylvania!
Before we get into the details of this week’s giveaway, I have the immense pleasure of introducing to you former model and a wonderful friend, Liv Ryan. She sincerely hopes her story will serve as an inspirational tale to anyone who beats herself up over numbers on the scale or battles with negative self-image, to anyone who counts calories or lives for the approval of another human being, and to anyone who thinks there’s anything glamorous about being a model.
By Liv Ryan
When I was a junior in high school I got scouted at Woodfield Mall in Chicago by a pair of model scouts. They spewed compliments and painted a picture of a future in Milan and Paris, a future so promising that I was practically foaming at the mouth. So when they invited me to New York City for an audition with some of the world’s top modeling agencies, to say I was excited was the understatement of the century.
To make a very long story short, I didn’t get signed in the Big Apple because my hips were too big. A few agencies promised a contract if I could come back with 34” hips.
Thirty four inches: the unrealistic standard I would spend the next two years of my life trying to measure up to.
Thirty four inches: the number that my measuring tape couldn’t read no matter how hard I would squeeze it.
Thirty four inches: the number that drove me into a dark place.
As it turns out, thirty four inches for me is simply impossible.
But goodness knows I tried. Working out became an obsession…which soon became an eating disorder. Running, lunges, salads, drinking water like a crazy person….you name it, I did it.
Two months later I signed a contract with Elite in Chicago, and the whirlwind began. Immediately I was booked for a hair company’s photo shoot. They sent me home with a new hair style:
Through print jobs, runway shows and pro-bono projects, I spent roughly the next two years of my life balancing school with a modeling career…all the while chasing a standard I could never achieve: PERFECTION.
I think we can all agree the self image of most teenage girls is about as fragile as a porcelain doll, but place her in an industry OBSESSED with perfection and she is sure to break.
And break I did. At my skinniest weight, I was the most depressed and furthest from Christ I had been since I became a Christian. Maybe I was beautiful on the outside, but I was desperate, hurting and broken inside.
Do you want to know a secret? Shhhh, because the industry never wants you to know what I’m about to tell you. Ready?
The models you see and compare yourselves to DON’T EXIST. It’s all an illusion. Please watch this video of a model’s before and after.. You will be blown away.
Enhancement is the standard, and natural beauty, “uniquicity” as I call it, is all but present. I know their dirty little secret now, but at the time, the mirror was nothing but a painful reminder that I wasn’t perfect.
God orchestrated a rescue mission during my freshman year of college that led to my modeling demise, and I couldn’t be more grateful for his intervention.
He led me to attend Wheaton College where the Christian community was authentic and strong. Slowly but surely, God was pulling me back to Himself. He was using any and all means possible.
Wheaton’s cafeteria didn’t suck, and I put on about 10 pounds over the course of the year. At one of my agency “check-ins” near the end of that school year, my agent pulled out an old friend of mine…drumroll please…the dreaded measuring tape.
At that moment, I knew and they definitely knew that our professional relationship was over. I didn’t fit the bill and would soon be replaced. After all, girls were lining up at the door for weekly open auditions.
Looking back, I see God’s hand ACTIVELY protecting me and pursuing me throughout every step of my journey. He is the reason I didn’t fall deeper into my eating disorder. He is the reason sexual abuse never touched me (and you better believe it goes on in that industry).
God didn’t passively sit by while I “did my own thing.” That’s not the kind of Father God is. He never stops fighting for or tugging on the hearts of His children.
He. Never. Gives. Up. On. Us.
I have come so far in my image journey that I sometimes forget how intense that stormy season was. I can say with complete confidence that because of God’s healing hand, I am free from an eating disorder and enslavement to body image!
Am I perfect? That’s clearly rhetorical people! Of course there have still been trials and mistakes along the way. But I couldn’t be more thankful that God rescued me from a career path that explicitly robbed me of passion, freedom and joy.
Eight years later, almost to the day of my modeling career going up in smoke, I have never been more fulfilled. The Lord has renewed my mind and given me a passion and purpose for His kingdom that permeates far deeper than beautiful photos and long-skinny-runway legs ever could.
I am crafted in the image of God Almighty. He looks at all 39” of my child bearing hips, every wrinkle and every randomly sprouting gray hair…
and calls me BEAUTIFUL.
I’m not a model. “I’m a daughter of the King. And he is enthralled with my beauty. I will honor him, for He is my Lord.” (Psalm 45:11)
Liv is a wife of one and a mommy of two who currently resides in Bettendorf, IA. She is a passionate writer, runner, holy yoga instructor and musical theater girl who is still learning what “slow down” means. She thinks every body type is beautiful, and loves seeing women embrace who they are in Christ. She is so thankful that God has brought their son Coleton into their family through adoption, and that He has also blessed them with a miracle baby girl. Liv and her hubby Kevin also have lots of children in heaven, as a result of recurrent miscarriages. She’s currently writing a book series entitled: Bearing Hope: Your Inspirational Companions through the Darkness of Infertility, Miscarriage, and Failed Adoption. Her personal blog is www.livryan.com.
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Fashion is a fickle industry, a frightening fact for twenty-four year old model Ivy Clark. Ten years in and she’s learned a sacred truth—appearance is everything. Nobody cares about her broken past as long as she looks beautiful for the camera. This is the only life Ivy knows—so when it starts to unravel, she’ll do anything to hold on. Even if that means moving to the quaint island town of Greenbrier, South Carolina, to be the new face of her stepmother’s bridal wear line—an irony too rich for words, since Ivy is far from the pure bride in white.
If only her tenuous future didn’t rest in the hands of Davis Knight, her mysterious new photographer. Not only did he walk away from the kind of success Ivy longs for to work maintenance at a local church, he treats her differently than any man ever has. Somehow, Davis sees through the façade she works so hard to maintain. He, along with a cast of other characters, challenges everything Ivy has come to believe about beauty and worth. Is it possible that God sees her—a woman stained and broken by the world—yet wants her still?
To pre-order A Broken Kind of Beautiful, scroll down to the buy links at the bottom of this page.