Jessica Rachel is a 21 year old model and graphic design student at Falmouth University. When she’s not hanging out with her friends making mug cakes and jamming along to a guitar, you can find her in the pages of Vogue covered in gold! We were dying to speak to her about all things beauty, fashion and faith.
Tucked away in the corner of a café in South Kensington, Jessica begins explaining her story of how she first started modelling.
“It actually began during school. I was asked to be in a fashion show and from that I realised I really loved it and found so much joy in it.” Explains Jessica.
However, Jessica was embarrassed to tell anyone that she wanted to be a model so she hid her dream away for a few years until she went on a weekend away and finally opened up to a friend about what she really wanted to do;
“She put me in touch with a photographer and he was there at the event so we ended up doing a photo shoot that weekend! That was when God really showed me he was in it, and it wasn’t an egotistical thing but actually He wanted to speak to me through it. That was the beginning for me. I felt so close to Jesus.”
It’s not often you hear people talk about modelling as a way of them getting closer to God, but for Jessica her modelling was a way for God to use her to change the industry for the better. But as with most great change throughout history, the change comes first in the individual.
“I want to see people’s perceptions of beauty changed. I used my modelling to ask myself really challenging questions of how I saw myself, why I was actually doing it, and what beauty was. I think it’s quite a vulnerable thing having a camera in your face. You become quite aware of what you’re thinking.”
Jessica continues; “Every time I was on shoot I would be like ‘God how do you see me?’ And I realised what I looked like didn’t affect how I felt any more, it was actually what I believed. God was speaking truth to me. He brought back my freedom because I realised that trying to be what the world told me beauty was had really taken away my joy and I found that my joy came back suddenly when I was thankful for who I was and actually accepted it, seeing myself through God’s eyes.”
This revelation fuelled the passion in Jessica’s heart and she wanted to share it with as many people as she could. “I was so transformed by it I was like ‘this truth can’t just be for me!’ I can’t be the only one who struggles with how I see myself.”
So her pursuit of modelling was now in full swing and she even travelled to Africa with the hope to develop her career even more, but Jessica’s life took an unexpected turn;
“It was actually in Africa that I didn’t do any modelling! My life through school felt like it was going really well and then after school it all just started crumbling. There’s a song that says ‘when I thought everything was falling apart it was falling in to place.’ It was totally like that for me because I had become so strong and I guess had it altogether, then suddenly felt so broken and everything was out of place.”
But it was in this tough time that Jessica began to see life differently.
“I saw that all these questions deep down needed to be asked and I had hidden them for so long. I was asking really big questions like who am I? What is life about? Who is God? Do I have a purpose? What is beauty? What does freedom look like?”
“It was the most painful time but actually it was the most incredible time because He spoke to me so powerfully through things like art and nature. In my art foundation year we had to do a project and I was in this garden and I really wanted to do something with dead leaves. So, I got some dead leaves and brought them in to the sunlight and I started twiddling them around and the four leaves were letters that made the word life! That was the moment God showed me that life comes from dead things. He brings beauty from the ashes.
“I had always been afraid of weakness and the dead parts in my life then it was in this moment I realised if you bring those places of death and those places of fear to God, He can bring life out of them.”
Although Jessica is currently doing a degree in Graphics, she hopes one day to be able to transfer this to fashion design.
“I love fashion, I love wearing new outfits! I find it so exciting.” She exclaims.
Some people may feel like fashion and Jesus don’t fit hand in hand, but Jessica explains that it’s all about balance.
“There is one side when people can become too materialistic about fashion and it can become a game of how can you can always be in top trends. I’ve never really kept up with that. The side of fashion that I love is where we realise that what we dress ourselves in is really important. God said that He fashioned us in the womb [Psalm 139:13] and we now get the opportunity and the privilege to dress ourselves in who we are. Also, there’s the encouragement that you don’t have to spend lots of money to feel worthy or feel valuable. I love charity shopping and I’ve got a beautiful coat for £3, yet we put so much value on how much we’ve spent on things.”
Jessica’s favourite item of clothing is her Yellow round-neck jumper. “It’s not very fashionable but I just love it cos it’s yellow!”
She laughs; “I had a girl come up to me when I was wearing my bright yellow trousers. She said, ‘can I just say I love your trousers they make me smile!’ What a joy to bring a smile to someone else just by what you wear!”
On that jolly note, it was time for us to finish off our hot chocolates and head on home, but not before a final word of encouragement from Jessica for our Girl Got Faith readers:
“I really have a passion that people will find out their identity and know their true value. It’s really important to be inspired by role models but the most beautiful thing we can be is completely and utterly ourselves. My challenge would be for people to question how they’re living and if they are really free? Fear is something that holds people back from how they are created to be. Come out of your comfort zone and chase your dreams no matter what anyone thinks, as long as you know your heart behind it. I had to do that with modelling. No matter what my friends thought I had to just believe that God was going to use me in the industry. It’s all about the heart and what you believe deep down.”
To see more from Jessica Rachel you can check out her blog and follow her on Instagram @Jessicarachel_
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