The Voice of The Salvation Army in Canada and BermudaView RSS Feed
Jan10WedMarlies Smedinga is as comfortable in the latest fashions as she is in her Salvation Army uniform. January 10, 2018 by Simone Worthing
When Marlies Smedinga isn’t gracing the runways of Europe or showcasing fashion trends on a photo shoot in Australia, you can find her at her local Salvation Army church in the Netherlands playing trombone in the brass band.
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- Faith & Friends
“I’m a real Salvationist, so when other models or people in the industry ask about my faith and about The Salvation Army, I tell them,” says the 19-year-old.
Casting Off Criticism
Marlies, a senior soldier from the Leeuwarden Corps in the Netherlands, has travelled all over Europe for castings and assignments.
“I love my work,” she says. “I’ve done video campaigns, magazines and shows, and I love the variety of it, as well as the opportunity of meeting so many people.”
Although she has only been a part of the industry for two years, Marlies, who was discovered by talent scouts in Sweden, has had to work through some serious issues.
“Everyone always has an opinion about how you look, and they feel free to share their opinions,” she says. “It’s a hard world, and I often took their comments personally, but now I let most things go.
“I remember being really shocked at being told that I had ugly eyebrows,” she continues. “People don’t realize the impact their words can have on young girls. Now, I’m confident in who I am and what I look like, and people can take it or leave it. Most people, though, are nice— they see you as a real person and treat you like one.”
Marlies is a fifth-generation member of The Salvation Army who grew up playing cornet in the youth band, and then trombone in the senior church band. While she is away on assignment, she misses playing in the band next to her boyfriend and her 85-year-old grandmother.
It is not an understatement to say that working in the cutthroat business of international fashion is extremely challenging for the young people involved. Like many of her workmates and friends in the modelling business, Marlies is on a spiritual journey.
“There aren’t many Christian girls in modelling,” she explains, “but a lot of the young people do think about spirituality and don’t know what is out there. They might be inspired.”
Lt-Colonel Donna Evans, an Australian Salvation Army pastor who was appointed to the Netherlands two years ago, became a good friend of Marlies.
“Marlies is beautiful inside and out,” she says. “She is open and searching in her journey with God.”
Donna and Marlies keep in touch via social media.
“We often have spiritual conversations. Marlies asked me once how she could reach others with her faith. I replied, ‘Pray and God will open up a door.’ She did this and the next day, one of the models asked her about the Bible and her faith. Marlies was so excited!”
Grounded in Faith
Marlies finds that her faith gives her a foundation for living and a certain wisdom that helps steadily negotiate the fast-paced and high-pressure world of the catwalk.
“So many people in the modelling industry want the girls to be so skinny,” she says, “and some of them don’t do that in a healthy way. I make sure I keep myself healthy, and my family makes sure I eat well, so that’s not an issue for me. Being healthy and enjoying my work are the main things for me.”
Marlies’ dream job would be to “walk the Chanel show, or do a makeup campaign with L’Oréal,” she says. “But the most important thing though, for me, is to stay grounded in my faith and to be myself.”
Reprinted from The War Cry (Australia), July 8, 2017, and Others, June 6, 2017