Being a God Fearing Girl in a Godless World
About the Guest
Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird recall their adventure into fashion modeling. What they discovered inside the modeling business made them both decide to walk away forever, with their standards intact.
Being a God Fearing Girl in a Godless World
Bob: Oh, is that—
Dennis: Yes. [Laughter]
Bob: Is that where—you are chalking all that up to the monkey?
Dennis: Yes; it’s evolution.
Bob: Okay; alright—
Dennis: It’s all a part of—
Bob: Well this brings to an end today’s FamilyLife Today. We are now done, as Dennis has gone completely off the rails! [Laughter] Wow!
Dennis: Of course, Bob! What?—you are playing softball. [Laughter] You put it right over the fat part of the plate.
I just think this—I think God, in His ingenuity, majesty, and almost—may I say it, mischievous way, in a very good sense of that word—made us male and female to complement one another.
Yet we, as human beings, instead of embracing those differences, we start to push back against God. We may not like some of it. I know, at times, there are aspects of being a man, and a husband, and a father, and a grandfather that I kind of rebel against. It’s demanding more of me to die and to be sacrificial for my wife and for my family. We have a couple of ladies saying a lot of “Amens” in here—
Bob: That’s right.
Dennis: —already. Bethany Baird and Kristen Clark join us again. Kristen, Bethany, welcome back.
Kristen: Thanks for having us.
Bethany: Thanks so much for having us.
Dennis: They’ve written a book called Girl Defined. It’s also the name of an organization these two sisters have founded together. They’re all about helping young ladies—as well as all ladies—find out how God designed them to be as women.
Bob: We should say you almost didn’t wind up leading a ministry about womanhood. You were almost fashion models; right?
Kristen: We were; yes.
Bob: There was a point in time—tell us about that.
Bethany: Kristen and I were—we still are—very tall and very blond. [Laughter] Growing up—that was in a culture that upholds modeling, and physical beauty, and all of that—from a very young age, we were approached about modeling, just from strangers on the street—someone coming up to us and giving us cards or our mom a card and saying, “Hey you should check out the modeling industry,” “You guys are perfect for this world,” “What do you think?” Our parents always said, “No, that’s not really the direction we want to go with them.”
We—in the back of our minds—started thinking: “What would the life of a beautiful model look like? Would that mean I’m beautiful? Would that mean I’m a real woman?” We put if off out of our minds. Our parents distracted us through the middle and high school years with basketball, and sports, and all sorts of other stuff.
After we graduated from high school, both of us wanted to revisit that idea. I, Bethany, remember a time where I pulled up a card that I had received, called the person up; and he said: “Oh yes, come on in. I want to have an interview with you.”
I remember walking into the door, my hands were sweaty—my heart started beating. I walked in and there was the owner of the agency. He was having a meeting with me. Apparently, he thought I was going to be a great fit for his company. I remember walking in—and completely surrounding his room, from top to bottom, was wallpaper with, I guess, their models that had climbed up in the company / made it really far. The pictures all lining the walls were basically of naked women, pretty much. I remember walking in and thinking immediately, “I don’t really want to become an addition to his wallpaper—that’s not really where I want to go down.”
I sat down. He introduced himself. He passed a form across the table and asked me to fill it out. It had the information on it. I remember looking at the options—the type of modeling. There was absolutely nothing on that form—where you could hold onto any decency or purity at all—it was pretty intense. Everything that my parent’s—the truth that they had been sharing with me, the Bible verses, the studying I had done—I knew it couldn’t align, long term.
I didn’t want go down that road, but I was there and I had to do something with it.
I finally just told him my kind of stand on purity and my convictions. He just told me, straight up—he looked at me and said: “We would rather have girls, who we would consider less attractive, but are willing to show all over girls, like you, who we might consider more attractive but have some standards. Because in order to get to the top of the industry, you really have to be willing to show all and be willing to do whatever it takes.” Then the last words he said to me were, “Well, when you become comfortable in your own skin and when you become confident, then come back and we can talk.”
I remember leaving and thinking: “You know what? I am perfectly confident and comfortable in my own skin. I’m just not willing to show it off for everyone. I have decency. I know what God thinks about me, and this not the road I want to go down.”
I never looked back. I never have had another desire to go down the modeling world. It was really a—kind of shocking experience and something I don’t think a lot of girls realize.
They just see these glamorous pictures, not realizing you are basically an object to be used. If you’re not willing to do what they want, it’s out the door with you.
Bob: What your story really reveals is how central to a cultural understanding of femininity appearance is.
Bob: Beauty and appearance become markers, whether we like it or not. I know there’s push back. I know there’s some in the feminist movement, who would say: “Oh we are completely against any objectification of female beauty. We’re not about that.” All you have to do is turn on the TV or pick up Vanity Fair—
Kristen: Check out at the grocery store—
Bob: That’s right.
Kristen: —It is all right there.
Bob: —the message is pretty loud and clear: “Physical appearance defines whether you’re a real woman or not.”
Kristen: It does; absolutely.
I experienced a similar situation except the agency I approached—they were considered “family friendly.” They said, “We will work with you.” I said: “Here are my standards. I have standards for what I’ll wear or what I won’t.” They said, “We can work with this.”
I signed a contract for one year with this agency. I thought: “This is going to be great. I can actually be a Christian and embrace purity, and morals, and modesty, and decency and take that into the modeling world. This is going to be awesome.” I was really optimistic.
The first year—I entered into that first year—I got a few jobs. Basically, the way you would get selected for a job is they would put your portfolio on their website. Different companies would come and check out portfolios of the models. If they thought you were pretty enough / if they liked how you looked, then they would write the agency or call them and say: “Hey here’s the job we have. We want this model.” We were all numbered.
I remember, shortly after I was in this world, I started thinking about my outward appearance more than I ever had before in my entire—because now, as a woman, my entire worth and value in this agency was based on how pretty I was. If a company wanted me, then I felt really good: “Oh, I was pretty enough. They hired me for the job.” If I didn’t get the job—that meant a different girl was prettier and they wanted her.
This roller coaster of emotional ups and downs over the months of “being good enough” one day and “not good enough the next” was getting to me.
As time went on—probably six/seven months—the agency started pressuring me. That whole “family friendly” thing slowly faded into the background—they said: “Your standards are a little too tight. You are going to need to loosen up a little. If you want to get more jobs, you’re going to need to drop the standards.”
At that moment, it hit me—this dream world—that I thought I could collide my Christianity, and my femininity, and my purity with modeling—it all came crashing down. In that moment, I really had to stop and evaluate, “Is this the woman I want to become?” I had to make a choice, and I decided against it. I had to finish out my contract—I held to my convictions and my standards—praise the Lord! At the end of the year, I told her: “I can’t continue with you. I can’t do this.”
Dennis: There are a lot of moms and dads, listening to both of you sharing these stories, who are going: “Wow! Those young ladies, at least, had a plumb line / a standard of truth from the Bible in your mind of modesty—of what you would do and wouldn’t do and protecting purity.” They’re thinking, “What did their parents do?” How did they embed that in your souls as young ladies? What would you say your parents did right?—one thing that you would say helped embed that character that enabled you to be able to take on the world—and collide with it—but not wilt and cave in.
Kristen: I would say for me, and this is Kristen, the biggest thing my parents did is—they always taught us the why behind all of the, I guess, rules, or convictions, or standards that they encouraged us to live by. They wouldn’t say: “You need to dress modestly and that’s the end of it. I don’t want any questions. We’re not going to tell you why we value modesty—you just need to obey me.” They never did that.
They would allow us to ask questions—they would encourage us to ask questions—they would say, “If you don’t understand something, you can ask us why we’re doing it this way and we will explain it to you from the Bible.”
They would explain why they were embracing this way of thinking /embracing this worldview—why they felt like it was God’s best for us. They would take us to the Word of God. For us, that made the hugest difference. From a young age, we were developing convictions and standards of our own based on God’s Word rather than learning how to be obedient ducks that fall in line and just listen to everything our parents tell us.
Dennis: Okay; I want to get Bethany’s answer to the question, but a follow-up question for you on that. How did they answer the why for what it meant to be a girl, a young lady—and ultimately a woman?—because Bethany, you said something under your breath after the guy said, when you finally get comfortable in your skin, you’ll come over to the dark side. [Laughter] Really, that’s kind of what it was.
Dennis: —but in reality, I thought—as you said that, I thought, “Sir, she is comfortable in her skin as a woman.”
Dennis: What did your mom and dad do with you?
Kristen: Our mom was an amazing example. Our mom lived out biblical womanhood. What we write in our book is so much of what we learned from watching our mom, growing up. She was an amazing, strong woman, who was passionate for the Lord. She had opinions—she was not a doormat—but she learned how to harness that in the right ways—how to love our dad, how to submit when that was necessary, and how to have conversations and work through things.
Sometimes, she would be right; and we were able to observe this. She was very feminine. She embraced her femininity in everything she did. I would say, for us as young girls, looking up to our mom, even though we wouldn’t have said, “Our mom is cool,” as young girls—your mom is never the cool one—it’s always someone else. Looking back, that had a huge impact on our thinking—was our mom embracing God’s design and actively living that out.
Bethany: Our parents—I think, for me, the biggest thing would be the time both our dad and our mom took to invest into us—just on a friendship/relational level.
That takes time for kids, and it doesn’t always—the results or reward of that oftentimes doesn’t come out until later—but looking back, we knew our parents really, really loved us, and cared about us, and they really invested time.
We didn’t have boatloads of money—they weren’t taking us on every fancy trip and cruise. We would go on these simple camping trips and they would give up their whole weekend just to spend time with us. They would take the time to talk through what was on our mind—what were we thinking about / what’s going on with our friends—and they would play games with us. They would just do simple things with us.
Now I remember—19, 20, 21—thinking: “Wow! My parents really do love me—they really do care about me. When push comes to shove, I really trust their opinion. I really trust— wow—I’m seeing what they told me from the Bible for myself is really true.” Instead of following after the guy from the modeling agency—I like to call Jeff—instead of saying: “Oh I need to be confident in my own skin. I’m chasing after that,”—I thought: “Wow! He doesn’t care about me. He just wants what he wants—but my parents love me.”
I would say for parents—you may not see the reward of your time and labor, right now, but oftentimes, later on in life, when your kids grow up, they will remember that—the time you spent to nurture that relationship.
Bob: You mentioned the investment of time and the intentionality. I’ve talked to you guys about the resource we created called Passport to Identity™. The only reason I bring that up again is, when we looked at it, we thought we could create a book for a mom and a daughter to go through together; but instead, we wanted to create something a mom and daughter could experience together—
Bethany: Oh yes!
Kristen: I love that.
Bob: —where they could get a couple of days together and go do something fun— something the daughter would look forward to.
In the context of the two of them having fun together—going on an adventure together or doing whatever would bond them in that context—have some of these conversations around: “Let’s talk about who God made you to be,” “Let’s talk about what it means to be a woman and not a man,” “Let’s talk about what healthy relationships look like.”
The feedback we’ve gotten from the parents who have done this with their kids is that experience becomes catalytic for the rest of the teenage years, because you’ve created a memorial stone that you come back to and revisit over and over again as you go through the teen years.
Dennis: My son, Samuel, just took his oldest son through Passport to Identity, Bob. They only got halfway through because they talked the entire weekend.
Bethany: Wow; that’s awesome!
Dennis: They just unpacked stuff and kept talking and had a lot of fun. My son was committed to making it a great weekend between a father and a son. I think it can be the same thing for a mom and a daughter as they get away and bond the relationship like you guys were talking about but, at the same time, be guided in some incredibly honest and authentic conversations.
In your book, you two talk about the three lies of the world in terms of femininity. Earlier, we talked about liberation—there’s two more. Share those and unpack them if you would.
Bethany: The first pillar—we call them The Three Pillars of Counterfeit Femininity—the first one is liberation. Kristen talked about that earlier. The second one is independence. It’s really just this whole idea that, from a young age, we, as girls, are being pressured and pushed to become completely independent. Not just on a basic level I guess—be independent, you know, how to brush your teeth, know how to brush your hair—those sorts of things—but be independent / put yourself above everyone else. You come first above your family / above your friends—it’s all about you. Really, in this culture that we live in, that’s what I feel the pressure to be. I feel—
Bethany: —this pressure to be totally independent of everyone around me. We know that other young girls or younger sisters are being pressured to be that way. Ultimately, that means that not even God is above you—ultimately, it’s about you following your heart—following your feelings and doing whatever it takes to make you happy in the way you think would be best.
Bob: I’ve often had the conversation that I think a lot of what spawned the women’s liberation movement in the ‘60s—I was alive back then when this was happening. [Laughter] I think a lot of what happened was that women looked around and saw men in the culture leading self-absorbed / selfish lives—being able to do whatever they wanted to do—they said: “That’s what we want. If you get to be selfish, we want to be selfish too.”
What became liberation was really just a capitulation to selfishness: “We want the freedom to call our own shots and do what we want to do,”—which goes back to Genesis 3. If I remember right, that’s exactly what Adam and Eve said, “We want the freedom to do what we want to do.” That’s the root of sin.
Kristen: When we buy into that lie, we say, “We know better than God.” This is where every girl goes wrong / this is where every guy goes wrong—when we say, “We know better than God.” This was the root of the feminist movement.
God’s says this is what womanhood is—but we don’t like that. We’re going to reject that and instead bring out our own ideas, bring out new methods, bring out what we want to do:
“That’s going to be our new standard for truth.” When we reject God’s authority, now, we have nothing to stand on. What are we standing on?
Kristen: It’s the opinions of the culture—it’s the opinions of your friends, your peers, of Hollywood, of the media. Now, we’re basing our entire worldview for womanhood on what the culture says—there’s no authority. We break that down in our book and we say: “Girls, the answer is getting back to God’s design. He wrote the manual for life. He designed us; therefore, He defines us.” That’s really getting back to the root and the heart—is that God is our Creator, therefore, He knows what is best for us.
Dennis: There’s a lot of moms raising daughters right now—and probably some daughters listening to this broadcast—who are right in the middle of these counterfeit pillars you’re talking about for femininity. What’s the third pillar that you talk about?
Kristen: The last one is a huge one.
Honestly, probably one of the biggest that we are seeing in our generation, and younger girls, and older women—that would be sexual freedom. This pillar is so pushed on girls and young women from such a young age.
I just glanced, not too long ago, at the Disney channel—I don’t watch it—but just seeing what’s on the Disney channel for children today is so appalling—just that sexuality / that looseness—that “Just show it all at a young age,”—that is the norm for young girls today. There was a time in our lives where we bought into this pillar, just in a small way—this idea that—in order to be liberated, independent, free as women—we need to be able to express our sexuality however we think is best.
Bob: What was it the woman in the soda shop said?—or at the soda fountain—was that to you?
Kristen: Oh, yes! We were in a restaurant. A lady came up to us, and she was complimenting us on our beauty. She said: “Oh girls! If you’ve got it, you need to flaunt it!” and really encouraging us. We’re like: “Ha! Ha! Thanks for the piece of advice.” That’s a random stranger coming up and pushing their advice on you, saying: “Girl, flaunt it. If you’ve got it, show it off.”
Kristen: That’s powerful / that’s awesome. Thankfully, we were old enough to know, “No, that’s not really God’s best for us.” That is the message being pushed—and loudly.
Moms need to know that their daughters are absorbing these messages. If they’re not counteracting that with truth / if they’re not taking the time to sit down with their daughters, they need to—to say: “No. That magazine that you saw / that TV show that you saw—we need to talk about this. Let’s really break that down. Is that where we, as women, should be finding our identity?”
Dennis: Yes; I was babysitting four of my grandchildren this past weekend while my wife and daughter were kind of out on the town. They were enjoying shopping. [Laughter] Anyway, they said, “Why don’t we watch a movie?” We began looking. Let me tell you something—my daughter, Rebecca, and her husband Jake have trained those girls, by the age of six, to already know, “No Papa, we can’t watch that.”
Bob: “We don’t watch that one.”
Dennis: “No, we don’t look at that one.”
Kristen: They’re telling you! [Laughter]
Bethany: That’s awesome!
Kristen: That’s so good!
Dennis: It was really fantastic—and truthfully, I didn’t know. I’m looking at all kinds of—not cartoons / they’re movies of sorts—and we ended up watching something piggy. I forget what it was—Piggy Pines or something like that. [Laughter]
Kristen: Sounds pretty safe.
Dennis: Yes; it was pretty safe. They delighted, and they weren’t being oppressed as young ladies. They were more free than the kids who can go their own way.
Bob: I think this is why it is so important for a mom to have conversations like we’re having here today—but to have those conversations with their daughters all through childhood—but especially during the critical adolescent years. As adolescence emerges—as they move into the teen years—more and more, they are starting to listen to the voices of peers. You have to continue to have your voice heard in the midst of the confusion they’re going through.
It’s why we designed the Passport to Identity weekend. We have so many parents who told us they had such a great experience with Passport to Purity®, where they take a pre-adolescent son or daughter off for a weekend and talk about the birds and the bees with them. We got such great reports on that resource that’s been around for more than a decade now.
We said, “Let’s have a follow up where a mom or a dad can take a son or a daughter away for a couple of days when they are 14/15, maybe 16 years old, and talk about their identity—talk about what it means that God made them male or female, about their personality, about their temperament, about the mission God might have for them. We’ve had a lot of parents, who have done the follow-up now with Passport to Identity. They’re telling us this is really a significant time for a mom to connect with a daughter or a dad to connect with a son.
You can find out more about Passport to Identity and about the book that Bethany Baird and Kristen Clark have written, called Girl Defined, which would be a great follow up for a mom and daughter to go through after you’ve been on a Passport to Identity getaway. Go to FamilyLife Today.com for information on all of these resources. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com. You can also call, toll-free, if you would like to order the book or if you would like to order the Passport to Identity resource. Call 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word “TODAY.”
You know. the reason we focus on developing resources like Passport to Identity is because of our mission. Our goal, at FamilyLife, is to see every home become a godly home. We want to effectively development godly marriages and families because we believe godly marriages and families can change the world, one home at a time.
We know many of you, who listen regularly, share that conviction with us. The way we know that is some of you have become Legacy Partners, monthly supporters of this ministry. You make a monthly contribution to help defray the costs of producing and syndicating this daily radio program. We are grateful for our Legacy Partners. In fact, we could really use a few additional Legacy Partners. The costs associated with this program continue to increase, and we want to be good stewards of that. The more Legacy Partners we have, the more we’re able to connect with listeners through radio, through our pod casts, through our FamilyLife app, through our online presence. You make all of that possible when you support the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
If you’re a long-time listener, consider becoming a Legacy Partner. You can do that easily—go to FamilyLifeToday.com or call 1-800-FL-TODAY and just say, “I want to become a Legacy Partner.”
When you make a donation today, whether it’s a one-time gift or whether it’s your first gift as a Legacy Partner, be sure and request a copy of Dennis and Barbara Rainey’s book, Moments with You. It’s a daily devotional guide that we’re happy to send you as a “Thank You,” for your support of this ministry. We really do appreciate your partnership with us at FamilyLife Today.
We hope you can be back with us tomorrow. Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird will be here again. We will continue our conversation on “What is biblical womanhood?” I hope you can join us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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