The 700 Club with Pat Robertson

Kathy Ireland

Powerful Inspirations


Kathy Ireland: Designing Woman

By Julie Blim
The 700 Club
August 20, 2002 Kathy Ireland first made a name for herself as a highly successful model. In 1993 she founded Kathy Ireland Worldwide—starting with designer socks. This wife, mother of two, and CEO is now an author too, and she is very candid about her life and faith.

LISA RYAN: Kathy, I’d like to say how honored I am to sit down and talk with you today. I think so many people who would know you as a model, actress, and businesswoman would be surprised to realize that you felt "dorky" growing up. How did feeling different actually make you a stronger person?

KATHY IRELAND: It taught me the meaning of true self-esteem. If we get our self-esteem from superficial places, from our popularity, appearance, business success, financial situation, health, any of these, we will be disappointed, because no one can guarantee that we’ll have them tomorrow. It comes from having an understanding of the depth of God’s love for you.

LISA RYAN: In reading your book, you wrote, "I was scared of God as a child, like there were two Gods: the God I knew in my head and loved, and the God from church who I didn’t much care for." When did you come to really know God as a loving Heavenly Father?

Kathy IrelandKATHY IRELAND: I was 18 years old and modeling in Paris, which sounds a lot more glamorous than it was. It was out of boredom, loneliness, and jet lag that I picked up a Bible my Mom had packed in my suitcase. As I started reading, I was just blown away. Jesus was nothing like I thought—He wasn’t condemning. He was loving and leading. As an 18-year-old, I thought, He’s really cool! I became a Christian. He became my best friend.

LISA RYAN: Another one of the things that you wrote in your book is this: "I never felt comfortable earning a living on how other people perceived I looked. And I almost always discourage anyone from getting into modeling." Why?

KATHY IRELAND: It’s a really tough business, and I have a really hard time encouraging anyone to get into it because of what I know. I’m grateful for the education it gave me; it exposed me to the best designers in the world, to people of all different cultures, and it enriched my life with experiences that have become a part of me. There are many aspects of that business that are not healthy, and when taken seriously in that regard, it’s an unattainable look, unattainable images, unattainable prices. When taken seriously, that can be hurtful to people.

LISA RYAN: What would say to young women today who feel they are judged by how they look?

KATHY IRELAND: I believe beautiful people come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages, and that needs to be celebrated. To the women who are looking at these retouched images, I’d encourage them to remember who made them and to have the kind of self-esteem that comes from understanding His love for you.

LISA RYAN: You hear so many stories about the modeling and fashion industry really taking advantage of a young lady. Was there ever a time when you felt you were put in a compromising situation, and how did you respond?

Kathy Ireland/Shades of AmericaKATHY IRELAND: Shortly after I became a Christian, I had a job and the photographer asked me to pose without a shirt on. I grew up in Southern California, on the beaches, and so swimsuits were second nature to me. But in Southern California, if you take your top off, you get arrested! I did not feel comfortable posing like that. He was not accepting my answer, wasn’t taking 'no' for an answer. He became very pushy. In fact, he physically pushed me. I had to physically push him back and walk off the job. I knew that God was with me and I could do anything else for a living. It didn’t matter.

LISA RYAN: One of the things you have been known for in the past was being a swimsuit model for Sports Illustrated. How do you feel about the work you did then? How do you feel about it today?

KATHY IRELAND: I grew up on the beach, so being in a swimsuit was no big deal as long as the suits were what I felt comfortable wearing. There were many suits I did not feel comfortable wearing and simply wouldn’t. There were certain times there would be images that I’d look at in retrospect and I was not pleased with how they turned out. I would think, 'Oh, that looks different than I had hoped.'

LISA RYAN: Maybe more provocative or more sensuous?

KATHY IRELAND: Some of them did come across that way, but my goal is that as I mature in my faith, my actions would be more and more according to God’s will.

LISA RYAN: You also have taken a strong, politically incorrect stand for pro-life. Why have you done that?

KATHY IRELAND: It wasn’t something I wanted to do. Even though I became a Christian at age 18, I was pro-choice. As a woman who always has and will fight for women’s rights, it made sense to me. I got out all the medical books off the shelf—my husband’s an ER doctor, so from his medical school days, we have an abundance of these books. There’s so much emotion that gets attached to this issue, and I wanted to just have the scientific facts to get my answers. I realized that I needed to know what it is. We have to know what it is before we can decide if it’s all right to kill it. From the moment of conception, a new life comes into being. At the moment of conception, this new life has a complete genetic blueprint, which contains the fingerprint, the blood type and the sex. There are a lot of good arguments for birth control, but as far as terminating a life that has already come into existence, I haven’t found any.

LISA RYAN: You also devote a chapter to finances. Tell me about finding that financial contentment or financial independence outside of materialism.

KATHY IRELAND: When I entered a profession that had the potential of being lucrative, it was even more confusing, especially when I read that passage in the Bible about 'it’s easier for a camel to go through eye of needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.' It’s really where your heart is. It’s not having money, but it is loving it. You can have no money, but you can love it. It’s that greed and coveting it; that’s where the sin is. Or you can have it but not love it, and own it but not let it own you. We are all stewards anyway. But if we always live below our means and put those savings away, we’ll be more realistic about what we can and cannot afford.

LISA RYAN: Another one of those lines was this: "Sorrow is a bit like a gift that nobody wants." What is the value of sorrow, and how have you known sorrow in your own life?

KATHY IRELAND: After my son was born, my husband and I wanted another child. We learned I was pregnant, and it looked like I was losing the baby. Losing that child was devastating. Shortly after we learned I was pregnant again, and my doctor shared with me that my baby had tested positive for Down’s syndrome. When my daughter Lily was born, we learned it had been a false positive. Having that knowledge that God doesn’t make mistakes was so comforting to me throughout my pregnancy.

Lisa Ryan and Kathy IrelandLISA RYAN: Tell me now about Kathy Ireland Worldwide. You are a worldwide entrepreneur now. Tell me about that.

KATHY IRELAND: I believe there are three keys to success. For me it is keeping my priorities in order: It’s my faith and my family, and then the business. The mission statement at our company is to find solutions for families, especially busy moms. The reason I’m reaching busy moms is that is where I am in my life.

LISA RYAN: Kathy Ireland, thank you so much. I feel like I know you now.

KATHY IRELAND: I’ve had such a great time spending time with you. Thank you.

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