At Covenant Eyes, our mission is to help people find freedom from porn. But the underlying problems that make pornography so devastating can be seen in many other aspects of our culture as well—it’s what some people have called the “pornification of culture.” Our podcast team recently sat down with former fashion model Leah Darrow to discuss her story, the pornification of culture, and how to find freedom in Jesus.
Seeking Validation and Identity
Leah Darrow grew up in a Christian home and believed in Jesus. But in high school, she started looking for her identity in other places. Like many young people, Leah longed to be loved, affirmed, and validated for who she was as a person. Unfortunately, she made some bad decisions along the way and walked away from her faith. These choices brought so much shame and regret, that she felt she could never go back to her Christian roots.
“I thought that I had just made so many bad choices in my life with relationships with my activities on the weekends… that it was irreparable. That’s what shame does shame likes to tell you, you don’t belong shame wants to tell you it’s only you no one else has this problem, like you’re the only one who is screwed up this bad.”
Exploitation in the Modeling World
It was on this path that Leah got her opportunity to go on America’s Next Top Model. Leah said:
“I wasn’t in this great healthy place where I’m like, ‘Oh I love myself and who, I am and I’m confident in the woman God made me!’”
This part of the modeling world typified much of what people mean when they talk about “pornification” of culture. People on the show were objectified sexually, and worse, dehumanized for entertainment. Leah described what she experienced:
“When you thought that there was nobody there with like a person, a man with a camera on his shoulder filming you. There were hidden cameras, there were hidden microphones we found them in lamps we found them in pillows we found them we ripped them we threw them away, they filmed you through everything they took all the doors off of the hinges in where we were being filmed… they took the door off the bathroom. I remember all the girls screaming, because they were trying to use the bathroom.”
She summarized the underlying problem with reality TV, which is a huge factor in the pornification of culture:
“It portrays human brokenness as entertainment. There’s a major problem when we are entertained by the brokenness of humanity!”
Finding the Path to Freedom
Outwardly, Leah’s career as a model became successful. But inwardly, Leah’s life was a mess. She was unhappy, unfilled, and longing to experience genuine love and connection. Until one day, she realized that she was looking in all the wrong places:
“In the middle of this fashion photoshoot and God completely touched my heart in a way that I cannot explain to you, other than a complete miracle in my own life.”
Leah walked away from the modeling world right there, but that was just the beginning. Her journey to restoration and healing has been a process since then:
“By the grace of God, I walked out of that photoshoot I came back to my faith in Christ… I slowly began changing my life, little by little, to live up to that higher standard. Since 2005 I’ve been on a slow recovery with Lord.”
Now Leah is on a mission to help people, young women especially, find freedom from the pornified culture like she did. Leah said, “There’s very, very few people in the pornography industry, whoever who can actually say ‘Oh yes, from the very beginning, this is where I wanted to be!’”
Instead, they keep following the path that Leah was on, or like Joshua Broome was on. Leah said:
“I was a part of the problem, I fully agree,” she said. “I was saying this, ‘Ladies is what you should look like this’ and ‘Men is what you should be a part of it.’ God was clearly calling me out of that space, because there was a higher standard that I had not yet tried to achieve.”
How to Reset the Pornified Culture
In addition to sharing her powerful story, Leah also gave us some practical thoughts on resetting the pornified culture—how to live against the grain in a world that’s increasingly driven by superficial appearances.
1. Use Objects and Love People
The pornified culture teaches us to love objects and use people—this is absolutely backward! God teaches us to use the objects He’s put in the world for our benefit but to love people. When we love objects, they gain control over us, so we become used by them as well. (Just think of the way social media uses our attention for advertising dollars.) Say no to pornified culture by refusing to use people as entertainment objects.
2. Understand the Lies of Reality TV and Social Media
Leah encouraged us to understand the lies that are at work in social media and “reality” TV. “Keep in mind you’re only seeing what they allow you to see.” It’s a partial picture of the truth that exploits people who are desperate for real affirmation:
“They purposely want you to look at things that they know we’re going to give you honestly a quick dopamine hit so that you’ll continue with that show you’ll continue watching.”
Understanding how it’s designed to grab a hold of our attention motivates us to look for healthier forms of entertainment. This takes us to the third point.
3. Unplug Your Media
Leah said: “Those are people who are just having a really hard time in life, and maybe we should give them a little bit more compassion and the compassion, we can give them is literally turning off the TV it’s like not watching not giving them show our time attention and rating.”
Whether it’s reality TV, social media, or other forms of exploitive content screaming for our attention, we can take a positive step against the pornification of culture by pulling the plug and stepping away from the constant barrage of media.
(To help with this, Covenant Eyes created the 7-Day Digital Detox for you and your family!)
4. Take Care of Yourself and Your Mind
The problem with so much media, said Leah, is that it ends up distracting us from taking proper care of ourselves. Leah asked:
“Are you taking some time each day to you know pause and take a walk or physical activity, are you taking care of your physical health are you taking care your spiritual health? What is your daily routine look like these are all questions that have to do with taking care of yourself but that I truly believe God is calling us to spend time in this type of holy self-care. When you’re distracted, when you look at other people you don’t take the time to take care of yourself, and then you begin to be the one that becomes unraveled.”