“I wasn’t aware we were supposed to bring our portfolios,” I joked to my friend as the album containing photos of our speaker in an evening gown and swim suit circled the room.
We both giggled and quickly passed the unopened book on to the people sitting next to us. The perfectly made-up woman standing in the front of the room was not what I expected in a session on “developing inner beauty.” For the next 45 minutes, I heard about her path from normal wife and mother to her crowning as Mrs. USA. Looking around the room, I noticed similarly perplexed looks on the faces of my fellow “real” housewives of Southern California. A stunning beauty pageant winner was the last person we wanted to hear tell us to cultivate our insides and allow that to be the beauty we portray to the world.
If her insides were anywhere as lovely as her outsides I really hated her.
The session ended with a platter of Oreos passed around the room, and the beauty tip that sugar is wonderful for the skin so we should rub the filling on our faces. I’m sure more women grabbed a handful of those cookies for comfort rather than firm skin.
Somewhere along the line a disconnect had occurred. Here was a roomful of women looking for camaraderie, empathy and encouragement in a world that tells them they need to look like super models. Who had decided that a super model was the right one for the job?
I know I’m not alone in experiences like this…the typical Christian women’s event can leave us feeling empty, lonely and talked down to. Innumerable times I have gone into a weekend retreat with the desire to grow in my faith, be challenged by God and create lasting bonds with the women in my church only to come back home more exhausted then I’d left.
For this reason alone I have shied away from women’s events. I was tired of hearing that my role as wife and mother should absolutely satisfy me, that my greatest joy should involve flower arrangements and memory books, that all I need to learn about in the Bible is that one chapter in Proverbs.
Raw, vulnerable and transforming experiences were what I craved.
It was with hesitance that I signed up this summer for the opportunity to attend a Women of Faith event as a BookSneeze blogger. However, over the past year I have read books by Women of Faith authors, frequented their blogs and followed them on Twitter.
What I’ve read has impressed me.
So, in one month I will be attending the “Over the Top” Women of Faith conference in Seattle. My past experience with women’s events leaves me a little gun-shy, but I have high hopes for this one.
That being said…if I see even one modeling portfolio I’m outta there!