The entertainment industry is well known for its systematic, and often unhealthy pressures on young females. Religious women in particular have had enough and have decided to walk away, this is merely due to the fact that they want to get closer to God and believe the fashion industry has led them astray from their morals and principles.
Breaking into and working in the industry itself is difficult, especially with the highly competitive and subjective ideologies that the industry has. The question is, can a religious woman cope with being part of an industry that is already placing extreme pressures on women to look, act and dress a certain way? Copious number of models have turned their backs on the industry due to the effects it has on their mental and emotional state and quite recently it has become more apparent that it also has an effect on their spiritual being. Models, including Kylie Bissuit and Nicole Weider have left the industry because they felt that the pressures of the industry forced them to distance themselves from their faith.
The fashion industry is an industry which is certainly demanding in all aspects. From height to weight and add to the fact that you get little or no say on what you wear on assignments. There is perhaps no other topic discussed more frequently in the industry and scrutinised more often than the pressure on models lose weight and maintain a certain size. But, over time the industry has adapted and we’re seeing more ‘plus size’ models on campaigns and adverts. Models such as Sonny Turner are representing plus size, young girls as well as body positivity. Which is great, but, one issue that still remains untapped is the freedom of religious women to not take parts in certain events/trends which go against their morals and principles without jeopardising their career.
More models are making a stand by leaving the runway to pursue their walk with faith. Models like Nicole Wieder have called the fashion industry “the devil’s playground”. For Nicole the glitz and glam was merely a facade. In an interview with the Christian Post she explains some of her insecurities that came along with modelling. Often she felt she wasn’t pretty enough and traumatised by the fact she wasn’t ready to be scrutinised by the people who made it all happen. Although, the industry had many downsides she stated that she had no regrets about working in the industry because it eventually led her to God. Nicole is just one model out of many who reached the peak of their career but, decided to take a different turn. She is now a married mum of one who began an inspirational lifestyle site for teens, called Project Inspired. But was Nicole’s decision to turn her back on the industry due to lack of self esteem or because she felt that her religion could not be accepted…
Lack of self-love is common in the fashion industry, models have complained that the more they get rejected for a show or agency the less beautiful they feel, competition is on a rise everyday as a new model is signed to the agencies, keeping healthy and looking ‘young’ can be a struggle especially with the pleasures and temptations surrounding you. Many creatives have claimed having their faith and religious upbringing has kept them sane and protected from all of it.
The egotistical environment which sometimes leads you to step on others to make a name for yourself has lost a number of models due to its pressures. Former model Kylie Bisutti, who had the ambitions of being a model from the age of five called it quits over three years ago. Her fame began after she won the Victoria Secret’s model search competition beating 10,000 entrants. But, she was unaware her ‘dream’ career would become one of her nightmares. Occasionally Ms Bisutti would do photoshoots where she was told to show more cleavage or look more seductive. In her interview with the New York Post she states, “That’s when it hit me. I was being paid to strip down and pose provocatively to titillate men. It wasn’t about modelling clothes anymore; I felt like a piece of meat. The next day I broke down in tears and started sobbing, I was in my bedroom dropped to my knees and started to pray.”
After being diagnosed with depression at 23, she knew it was time to go back home. Despite leaving the runway and her VS wings behind, fashion has still remained her passion. Bisutti, who is now married, lives a quiet life and manages her Christian fashion label God Inspired. The label caters to all ages and has tops and accessories with inspirational quotes and bible verses on them. Bisutti and Wieder are an example of choosing to leave the bright lights of the fashion industry in order to protect their emotional, mental and spiritual self.
On the other hand, since taking this topic to the public many people disagree with the actions that some models have taken in regards to their decision to leave the industry. Some have expressed that rather than quitting the industry as a whole, they possibly could have created agencies of their own which allowed religious women to express themselves and still be models. Although, many young women admired and praised the women’s bravery for leaving such an exciting career they also think the women should taken further actions to create a platform for women of faith. On a positive note, change is slowly beginning. Young women are now appearing in one-piece swimsuits and enjoying their time at the beach with their fellow loved ones without feeling ashamed. In addition to this, the ‘modesty movement’ is becoming more and more accepted by retailers. Fashion designers themselves are catering to women who would rather cover up than strip down. The style which was an alternative swimwear for deeply religious women has now become a more conservative choice and is now spreading to a wider audience. The sexy and seductive styles have taken a back seat while the religious style bloggers and models take a front seat in the industry to showcase their more ‘modest’ outfits. The question which all religious fashionistas have been asking is:
Is this the beginning of something new, will freedom be given to ALL women in the fashion industry?
Over time i the stylist will be keeping a look out to see the improvements in the fashion industry, will more women be given an opportunity to be a model and still respect their religion?
What are you thoughts? Drop us a comment below and tell us do you think religion and fashion can and should co-exist?