It's tough being a model. Hours of smiling practice, sessions with makeup artists and designers, and bottles of chill pills are required before that fateful traipse down the runway. Her burden is heavy. Although the outfit technically belongs to the designer, it's the model's job to sell it. Will the reporters hail her clothes as quirky or creative? The most imaginative design or faux-pas of the year? Dozens of cameras flash. She must now ignore the little blue spots in her eyes and navigate the return route down the runway, all while flaunting fifteen inch heels. On top of all the stress, she can't even eat. Oh, the pressure...
I'm a model, too, only without the paparazzi. From my position, the easy thing is to criticize other models for their influence: "Why are they popular while I'm...well...me? If I had their position, I'd do a better job of it."
I'm sure you can sympathize, as you've probably met one too; a dynamic model with that special talent to influence people. They're trendsetters. While legend tells of everything King Midas touched turning to gold, everything that person touches becomes hip. Don't ever try solving a disagreement with them by an election. They'll win the popular vote.
You've probably guessed by now that I'm not just referring to fashion models. Attitudes, word choice and even posture can be trends spread by others. We're creatures who love mimicry; some people simply have that special "zing" which causes us to admiringly imitate them. They're unconscious leaders, natural models.
In the past I've looked at friends who meet this criteria and mentally "tsk-ed" them. Can't they see how much influence they possess? Can't they see how many adoring eyes look to them for cues? "Popularity isn't just a fluke; it is gift with a purpose. Trendsetters have the responsibility to spread the right trend," I rant. Who knows how many people have been negatively influenced by bad leaders?
Inwardly I trade places with my friends and imagine how the world would be a better place if such popularity were mine. Yet if I only glanced over my shoulder I would see the face of my little sister. With one self conscious eye on herself and the other fixed on me, I have an audience too.
John Donne was on the right track when he wrote, "No man is an island, entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less." He was dreaming about death at the time; how each death affects humanity as a whole, but the principle applies to the living too. While it's easy to leave the job of role modeling to those with magnetic personalities, no man is an island. Every foot, big or small, leaves a print for others to follow.
1 Timothy 4:12 is so often quoted to prove that "youth matter" to the church: "Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity." It's pleasant to consider how much influence my actions carry, but I squirm at the command to "set the believers an example." I like being important. I just don't like being responsible for the consequences.
Like it or not, I am a trendsetter. Just as every fashion model to ever strut the runway, I impact the minds of others by what I wear. Am I an example of modesty? Or have I gotten lazy in picking my clothes?
In a way, I possess the power of a radio station in miniature. People hear what I'm saying, flippant words and all. What values am I broadcasting? What words am I using? Will others feel free to gossip if I do it? Am I a walking example of the beauty which comes from the heart?
And the hardest of all--am I being a model of love?
I want to ponder this more often; for instance, in the next five minutes when I run downstairs, maybe I'll bump into my sister. Perhaps she'll ask me to play with her. She might even ask for my help. Then, I'll need to react purposefully.
After all, it's my runway.