Religion & Beliefs

Model Behavior

I have to preface this post by saying that I’m a huge fan of America’s Next Top Model, a modeling reality show where one character is eliminated each week until the final woman standing is awarded a huge modeling contract. … Read More

By / May 15, 2007

I have to preface this post by saying that I’m a huge fan of America’s Next Top Model, a modeling reality show where one character is eliminated each week until the final woman standing is awarded a huge modeling contract.

 For the most part, I’ll agree that it’s a pretty mindless form of entertainment, but in between the cat fights, weekly cries of shock when “Tyra Mail” appears and the random shots of models preparing food to assure us that they really do eat, there are some valuable lessons that can be learned.

I’d like to go back in time to 2003, the first season that this show aired. Among the cast of models were two devout Christians, Shannon and Robin. Despite tension in the house between these devout models and the others, self-proclaimed atheists, the two young women made it into the group of the final four contestants, who were taken to Paris to learn about modeling in a foreign country.

And now, courtesy of Wikipedia, a recap of the particular episode I’d like to discuss (it has since been re-enacted in photo shoots on later episodes of the show)

The final four aspiring models tried on couture outfits for Parisian designers and were asked to pose naked in their photo shoot for diamond jewelry. Robin Manning and Shannon Stewart refused due to their personal sense of morality. Subsequently, these two contestants were called forward as the bottom two, and Robin was ousted.

On the surface, what happened seems clear—the two girls refused to do the task, and they got punished for it. On a deeper level, though, they stood up for their personal sense of tzniut, and they were rebuked for sticking to their beliefs.

Suffering for modesty is something a lot of Jewish men and women can relate to; how many Yeshiva boys have been mocked for playing sports in crisp white shirts and long black pants? How many women have sweated through long sleeved shirts in the summer or had to explain to their job supervisors why they won’t uncover their hair in the office?

  The lesson buried in all this, you ask? Religious Jews, Christians and Muslims share a common bond. Dedication to their values keeps them from fully integrating in mainstream society, but they are willing to make that sacrifice. If we could focus on similar values and beliefs instead of differences, maybe we’d get along better? For more reading on this topic, check out this JTA article by Lisa Sopher.