My bio says that I am a “former” model, and I really did give up that international business 14 years ago. When I moved home from LA in 1999, I did go to the only local modeling agency just to see if I could make some extra cash. I was told that I would have to pay to take classes (it was that kind of agency – a modeling school). Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but, um, I had two portfolios full of professional photos and I had worked in NY, Paris, Milan, as well as LA, Chicago, Tokyo, and Germany. So, no, I was not gonna pay for classes to teach me how to pose and walk.
When I moved home from LA the second time in 2004, I was introduced to Donna who worked at a boutique store. I was hired to do a little fashion show wearing high end women’s clothing, with the target audience older than 21. Which was good because I was too old for that. And I made a little extra cash.
Well, since then, the only times I have ever come out of “retirement” are for Donna. She has worked at couple of stores, which both sell lovely women’s wear. I cannot afford to buy any of it, but it is fun to play dress up every so often. Plus, it’s a big boost to my self-esteem
See, when I modeled back in the day, I was told that I was fat or “normal” and needed to lose weight. I never measured up (or down) to the other models. Being back in Lexington, I am one of very few who have had my experience. I took some really good photos back in the day, and I still have “the look,” such as it is. It is older and has wrinkles, but … I am still tall and thin. Not as thin, and that’s what is wonderful!
The most important thing that brings me back to work with Donna is that it doesn’t matter if I wear a size 4 or a size 10 (which I realize is still below the nation average, but for a model . . .). The clothes are made for real women. And no matter my size, I am told how great I look, and I really feel it. I am confident, and those I work for build me up. Plus, I get paid to put on fun make-up, dress up in fancy, expensive clothes, and walk around once in a while.
But that’s not all that brings me out retirement. Since I have worked with Donna, I have gone to seminary, gotten married, been ordained, and had a baby. She celebrates all of my achievements, maybe especially that I am minister. And she introduces me (and other models) by name!!! That’s huge! In my former life, I was just an object, a nameless “nobody” with a “body.” Donna is quick to tell people that I am a minister and a mom. And she tells me she loves me. I love her, too.
So, Wednesday, I played dress up again for a fundraiser. I walked the catwalk like I have really only done a couple of times. I was “too big” for the fashion weeks of NY, Paris, and Milan. I was thin enough for print (size 6), but not the runway. Wednesday, I wasn’t scared to change my clothes in front of the other models, some of whom were younger and thinner than me. I strutted my stuff like I knew what I was doing, and it was fun! I embrace the fact that I was a decent model back in the day, and that at 35, a married mom and minister, I can still put on heels (which I gave up five years ago) and do my thing.
So, once a year or so, I come out of retirement to make a little extra cash and have a little fun. Plus, I get to work with someone who makes me feel like a beautiful child of God, inside and out.
Former international fashion model Rev. Sarah Renfro seeks to boost the body image of young women by educating them on the myths of media and focusing on divine within. She also preaches and teaches about marriage and divorce, motherhood, ministry, and mental illness.