Editors' note: The weekly TGCvocations column asks practitioners about their jobs and how they integrate their faith and work. Interviews are conducted and condensed by Bethany L. Jenkins, director of TGC's Every Square Inch.
Trinity Laurel is a fashion model in Los Angeles. She has worked for Ralph Lauren, Koral Los Angeles, Kimberly Ovitz, and appeared in Beachbody Exercise DVDs and on QVC with supermodel personal trainer Leandro Carvalho. She also has represented brands like Bentley Motors, Nike, Bloomberg, Herbal Essences, AirBerlin, Google, and Time Warner Cable in North America and has traveled to England, Jamaica, Italy, and the Middle East for work and humanitarian projects.
I describe myself as self-employed because, even though I have modeling agencies, I am responsible to manage my own career. If I don't hustle and network, I don't eat! My work, though, is modeling. I do commercial print, fitness and fashion, but mostly I do two types of modeling—fit modeling and spokesmodeling. With fit modeling, the work isn't glamorous. I try on samples and help designers make improvements and corrections needed to get the best fit for the consumer. Spokesmodeling, on the other hand, gives me a lot of interaction with consumers, because I get to represent brands and travel with them to promote their products to potential clients.
When you come to New York City next week, what will your spokesmodeling job look like?
I work as a spokesmodel for a high-end automobile manufacturer. They train models and actresses just as much—if not more—as their regular dealers on their products. We travel to all of the North American shows and serve as the first faces of the brand that the customers see. Since it's a luxury brand, we have a small clientele. But we get to meet with potential customers, bring in leads, and connect people with the dealership. I like this role because there's more to the position than external beauty. Our clients expect us to know about the product, too.
Is that—expecting more than external beauty—rare in the industry?
Unfortunately, it can be. My biggest challenge is making sure that I don't connect my physical appearance and financial reward with my personal worth. It's easy to think that my value is tied directly to my look because—quite literally—I am paid to look and act a certain way, while maintaining very specific measurements. Thankfully, I've never struggled with my body image or an eating disorder, but I have wrestled with rejection and shame when my paycheck has fluctuated based on my physical appearance or when I've lost a client because my size or measurements have changed. It can be crippling and, at times, depressing.
Going through these issues alone is a breeding ground for despair. So I look to community, where lies can be exposed and compassion can flourish. Thankfully, I have a strong community of like-minded believers in Models for Christ (MFC). It meets a unique struggle that those in the fashion industry face—isolation. We travel so much and often to far-off places. So MFC tries to connect people all over the world with local churches wherever they happen to be and put them in small groups for encouragement and exhortation in the Lord.
How has your idea of beauty changed over the years?
The fashion industry is fickle, and focusing solely on the worship of outward beauty can kill the heart and take away the wonder that beauty was meant to create. There have been times when the brokenness of the industry has left me disillusioned, and I've struggled with hating beauty itself. But God continues to show me that there is a purity to the creative process that can point to him. C. S. Lewis says, “We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.” So I fight to find beauty in the unchanging qualities in which God delights—humility, truth, kindness, self-giving, joy.