Written by Cassy Roberts
“Since prayer is at the bottom of all this, what I want most is for men to pray—not shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God. And I want women to get in there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it.” – 1 Timothy 2:8-10 (MSG)
This phrase, “Doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it,” has not only been a monumental verse in my life but has also made me question my motives and viewpoints on my work in the fashion industry.
Since Grade 5 I have aspired to do something where I could express myself creatively. I like how clothes can be used to tell a story, act as a means of communication, and even be used for art.
Getting accepted into Ryerson University’s fashion communication program was probably one of my most affirming moments. “This is what I’m meant to do” I thought to myself sitting in an old hockey arena reading my acceptance letter off my phone. I was going to do great things – me, myself and I. I was so attuned to my own aspirations I was blind to see God’s greater plan.
Moving to Toronto was probably one of the most exciting things I have ever done. Being considered a city-slicker in the downtown core of the 6 (cringe) made me feel like a million bucks.
It was not until I was questioned by a professor about the verse above that I started having to ask some tough questions of myself. Why was I in an industry that was built on primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions? To be honest I fell flat on my face; I didn’t have a solid answer.
I began to question my motives a lot that year, leading me eventually to the following conclusion: Design, fashion and art are my God-given passions. He has equipped me with the skills to pursue those passions. He put me on this path and gave me these gifts — but sometimes, I lose perspective.
So to answer my professor’s question, yes, I am in an industry that is based on these very earthly things. However, that does not mean I’m going to accept these standards for myself. I know there is more to me than what can be merely seen with the eyes.
I am valued for my mind and my soul, and I can confidently say through this journey I have become more passionate about the person I am on the inside, which in fact makes me beautiful on the outside as well. Maybe I can change others’ perspectives as well.
For my fourth-year thesis, I focused on the self-identity and body image in young girls and women. Researching all the statistics and negative impacts that the fashion and beauty industry has on women today broke my heart. I ended up creating a publication full of untouched portraits of women, along with their stories of self-identity.
No, this book isn’t faith-based (many women in my book come from different faith backgrounds), but it is a book that speaks truth and has given me the opportunity to speak at conferences, schools, and churches about my research.
I am fully confident that this is where God wants me to be right now and am excited to see where He leads me next.