In life, whenever we find ourselves in bad or compromising situations, situations we never thought we’d ever be in, usually if we take a closer look, we’ll discover that these predicaments never occur in a vacuum. What I mean is there’s always a succession of choices we make along the way, a chain of decisions that lead us to where we are. And then, if we’re lucky enough to realize it, there is one choice we can make that has the capability to wipe away all the previous choices and grant us a fresh start. One choice that can wipe our slate clean.
For me, the road to figure modeling, or pornography as I now know it was, began with a guy. You know the type: a mysterious, good-looking rebel without a cause. The life he led was in such contrast to the life I had been leading up to that point in all my sixteen years on the planet. He was intriguing, as well as a high school dropout. What he had to offer was what I thought I needed: excitement.
In hindsight, it was the kind of excitement I could have done without. He and his friends were habitual users who used anything and everything that came through our small town in South Dakota. This was how I was first introduced to marijuana, the drug that would plague me for the next four years of my life. The drug that would cloud my judgment just enough to get me to believe all the lies my manager in Long Beach would tell me a couple years later. Lies like, “This is the first step into your career in modeling! How do you think Cindy Crawford got her start? Everyone does nude. You have no reason to be nervous; you’re so beautiful. Our bodies are art, and art is meant to be on display for the world to see.” The reality, I would discover, is much different.
When I was eighteen, I got an offer to attend a small college in Long Beach, and I jumped at the opportunity. A chance encounter with a girl I went to school with led me to realize that my boyfriend, Tim, had been cheating on me. That was just the excuse I needed to break up with him, and I took it. While I felt like I was leaving all my baggage behind in South Dakota, what I didn’t realize was that I was taking the most damaging parts along with me, my addiction to marijuana and my low self esteem.
I was a young girl who had no clue as to what my real value was, and because of that, I had no clue as to how I deserved to be treated. I continued using pot every day up to four or five times a day. People may tell you pot is no big deal; it’s barely a step up from smoking cigarettes. The reality is that pot may not be as physically lethal as cocaine or heroin, but it is every bit as deadly. Pot robbed me of my ambition, dreams, goals; you name it, pot stole it. Day by day, I was robbed because I chose to escape reality.
My friend worked at a swimsuit shop, and she had run into a guy at the shop who was a photographer. It turns out this photographer knew a manager who managed/trained girls for modeling. My friend knew I wanted to be a model, so she hooked me up with the guy’s phone number.
One late afternoon I went to Burt’s (the manager’s) office and knocked twice on his door. When he didn’t answer, I turned to leave. I was that close to avoiding a decision that I would regret for years to come. A decision that would embarrass both me and my family and would cause me great shame. As I turned to leave, Burt happened to be coming from the opposite direction in the hall and knew instinctively who I was. That one encounter led to many photo shoots, most of them nude, where I was manipulated and lied to by the people I trusted.
Burt had a website with each one of his girls’ pictures and measurements on it. Every Monday evening I would meet Burt at his tiny office to answer e-mails that prospective clients would send me. I hated answering these e-mails. I saw the clients as middle aged, pathetic, amateur photographers at best, and I despised giving them the time of day. To me I was using them to make some money and to be told by them how amazing I was. Now I see that I was being used by them as well.
Make no mistake, the shoots I took part in were meant to instill lust in the hearts of the men who looked at my photographs, and that made them a form of pornography. I wasn’t modeling, I was being used as a tool in a ten-billion-dollar-a-year industry. But I wasn’t able to see it because of my addiction to pot and because the people around me were telling me that I was going places; they made me feel beautiful, and I wanted to believe them.
Cut to six months later. Again, I was sitting in the tiny office I had now spent so much time in, and I got a call from my parents. My mom was in tears, and my dad, somehow calmly, asked how and why I could have posed nude in a major pornographic magazine. Needless to say I was blown away. I never thought anyone, much less my parents would find out.
As it happened, one of my photos was serving as an ad in this magazine, and it seemed that in about a matter of five minutes my entire home town had seen me naked. That didn’t bother me as much as the fact that my parents were devastated. I cried with my mom on the phone. I regurgitated some of the lies I had been told, that my body was art, that it was a necessary stepping stone into modeling. But my mom is a wise lady and told me that my body was a gift from God, a gift that wasn’t meant to be exploited for men’s sexual pleasure. I promised her right there and then that I wouldn’t do it anymore, and I didn’t. I left Burt’s office and never went back.
The problem with photographs is that there is always a negative of the photo, lasting evidence of bad decisions I have made. I lived in fear that my image would always be used in a negative sexual way, or worse, passed around my home town again. Living in California I didn’t have to deal with the looks and stares my parents got. But they held their heads up high and never condemned me for it. I never forgot that.
In November of 1999 I found the Oasis Christian Center, and my life hasn’t been the same since (for the better)! At the first service I ever attended there, one of the pastors, Holly Wagner, preached a message that spoke right to my heart. I went up to her after the service and confessed to her that I was addicted to pot. She said that if God can’t trust us in the little things, then how can He trust us with the big things. That moment sticks with me to this day. I went home and threw away all my pot and pipes and never looked back.
That day I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior and asked His forgiveness of my sins. I made the one choice that I later found out had wiped my slate clean. You see, with Jesus it doesn’t matter what you’ve done in your past. Jesus only cares about your future. All the shame, guilt, and anguish of drug addiction and porn were gone with this one choice I had made.
Now I am two years married to a wonderful man of God who loves me and respects me, and we have a baby on the way! If there is one thing I can impart to whoever reads this, it’s that if you’re involved with either drugs or pornography (stripping, dancing, etc.), there is a way out. Ask, and it shall be offered to you. Seek, and you shall find. Knock, and the door will be opened unto you. Matthew 7:7.