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Saint Mary’s students promote modesty through modeling

| Thursday, January 30, 2014

Heshima Couture, a faith-based modeling agency founded in 2012 by Saint Mary’s senior Wendy Oduor and junior Erin Cox, strives to embrace the edginess of the fashion world while respecting the human body as a temple of Christ,,Oduor said.

Oduor, Heshima Couture creative director, said she and Cox, a photographer, wanted to represent and respect Christ while pursuing their passions of modeling and photography.

“When you look at professional models, they have to one day either show their whole body or breasts, and that to me is too much,” Oduor said. “The idea [for Heshima Couture] of faith-based is the idea of modesty.

“There’s a verse we use, Corinthians 6:19-20, and it tells us we were bought with a price and we should honor our body because it’s not our own body, its technically God’s.”

Heshima means “respect” in Swahili and is part of Heshima Couture’s mission, Cox said. She said spotlighting respect and modesty was Oduor’s and her main goal in looking for words to describe their agency.

Their first campaign, which ended in January, was meant to discover the diverse definitions of modesty and how they intertwined with Christ, Oduor said. Oduor said she and Cox asked their models for their definition of modesty at each shoot.

“Modesty for me is more of following a commandment that God said,” Oduor said. “Because he says in his word to honor your body, so he is telling me to honor my body.

“So when I do it, yes, I do it because I want to I don’t want to expose my body, but most importantly it’s like I am giving respect to my creator, someone who died for me and my sins.”

Cox said she wants people to be inspired and hopes the pictures will build confidence in young girls because of Heshima’s models and the way they dress and hold themselves.

“I want them to see strong women,” Cox said. “I want them to be inspired by our models and the way that they carry themselves in the photos.

“It’s a lot about attitude. We’ve been focusing on that. It’s a lot about the way you want people to perceive you and perceive yourself.

“I think that girls having strong role models is one of the most important things. There are so many influences out there and you want to be one of the ones that are good. That’s what we are trying to do.”

Oduor said viewers must understand that Heshima Couture is not a run-of-the-mill modeling agency. She said people should be able to see God through a sense of glory in the photos.

“I want them to see that God can be a fun activity,” Oduor said. “When you bring religion to some things, some people think it can be boring, but that’s not true. I want them to see that this is cool but see God is in this. I want to make God proud.”

Hoping to help up-and-coming models, Oduor said she and Cox have big plans for the future. They want to create contracts with dependable models and fashion designers.

“We want to help aspiring models who agree with the same mission statement so we can help them to build their portfolios,” Oduor said. “It’s only a year old, so we are also trying to find a team who are willing to give it all to it.

“I want to see all of my models make it up there and still preach the modesty. I want to see Heshima in Vogue and Elle, and with the definition of ‘I’m modest, but I’m still fierce.’”

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About Alex Winegar

A junior at Saint Mary's, Alex is a Communicative Sciences and Disorders major. She serves as the Saint Mary's co-associate news editor. Alex enjoys traveling, food and spending time in "The Mitten."

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