Discovering True Beauty


When I was 17, I was accepted to sign with a modeling agency. I thought all of my dreams had come true. I was going to start booking jobs, move to NYC, walk the runways in Paris...everything the agency had promised me. But my dreams came crashing down with one word from both of my parents: No. To them, they were simply protecting me from an industry that has a reputation for sucking girls in, ripping them apart, and spitting them back out with deep wounds, insecurities, and a shattered self-esteem. But in my head, they were saying no to my dreams, to my future, to my chance to prove to the world I was good, beautiful, and worthy.

Until I was 19, I held onto that dream, striving, reaching, starving my body in hopes that one day I would be good enough. I would make it. I was obsessed with my outward beauty. I suffered extreme anxiety if a pimple appeared on my skin or if it seemed as if I was gaining weight. I was painfully Insecure, never feeling as if I was beautiful enough. Skinny enough. If I didn’t look like the models on the runway, on the magazine covers, I was worthless. I put my entire worth in my physical appearance, in my exterior beauty. I wanted to look beautiful rather than actually be beautiful. My spiritual growth completely stunted. Doing good for others or caring about anyone else but myself and my dreams dissolved from my vision. It was all about me.

During this time, I heard the testimony of Leah Darrow, a former model who had a powerful reversion and is now a Catholic speaker and author (and one of my biggest role models.) At first, her words burned my skin like acid. Her testimony turned me off because I knew if it was true, all of my dreams and everything I had been investing my energy and time into was a lie. I so desperately wanted to be in the modeling industry, to be validated and accepted based on my outward beauty. I had fallen into the lies of the world, and I didn’t want to hear the truth. Slowly but surely the Lord began working on my heart.

Looking back, I thank God everyday that he did not let me enter the modeling industry. An industry that would have only exasperated the disordered eating I was already engaging in and further destroyed my self esteem.I have no doubt that I very easily could have lost my soul in that industry.

Now, after years of counseling and growing in my relationship with the Lord, I realize that my beauty comes from the truth that I was specifically created by God to love; not because of my physical appearance.

I feel most beautiful when I am generous and kind; when I abandon my own needs and run to the aid of another; when I use my talents to glorify the Lord; when I let my true personality shine through that the Lord has given me and bring joy to others.

I feel most beautiful when I sit before my Creator in the Eucharist, my scarred and uneven skin bare and my sinful and little soul completely naked, and the Lord still loves me, accepts me, and calls me good.

I now want to dedicate my life to spreading my faith, raising awareness about mental health, and being a vessel of God's love, doing good rather than just looking good.

Four years ago, I was convinced I would be working in the modeling industry by the end of my college career. However, in a few weeks, four months after graduation, I will be moving to work with a ministry that serves some of the most overlooked and needy men on the streets of Chicago. And I could not feel more at peace with my decision.

Our true beauty is not simply found in our outward appearance, but in the truth that the Lord has specifically crafted our little souls and a plan for our lives.

And contrary to what the world tells us, we express that beauty best not by looking beautiful but by doing something beautiful.

Leah Darrow’s Podcast: