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Famous Model Finds Freedom in Christ

By Mark Ellis, ASSIST News Service, June 25, 2014

Bookcover for German edition

Bookcover for German edition

Southern California – She overcame a damaging skin disease to grace the covers of Harper’s, Vogue, Elle and other fashion magazines. Then her jet-set European lifestyle began to unravel after a coercive abortion and a series of tragedies that left her searching for answers.

“I was diagnosed with psoriasis at eight years old,” says Karin Holstein, author of her own story: Cover Girl Uncovered. The inflammatory skin disorder caused red scaling patches to form on Holstein’s hands, elbows, knees and ankles. “When I turned into a young woman, it was very sad and upsetting,” she says.

Holstein developed coping mechanisms to deal with her appearance. “I only wore long pants and gloves and became eccentric,” Holstein says. At school in Germany, she sometimes heard the word “leper” whispered as she passed through the halls.

At 13 her emotional world was rocked by the discovery that her father had a girlfriend. Unable to believe it at first, the sense of betrayal left a wound that would fester and reopen years later.

At school in Paris, a friend invited her to visit the set of a movie starring Brigitte Bardot. She says Bardot was “amazingly beautiful,” capturing the attention of every eye when she entered the room. She met Roger Vadim, the famous director, and was asked to be an extra in his film, If Don Juan Had Been A Woman.

“In Paris I was studying and had no intention of modeling,” Holstein says. But when she visited a fashion show one weekend in the Park de Versailles a designer approached, who said he wanted to book her for his next show.

“I can’t. I’m just a student,” she said with bit of trepidation, partly because of her skin condition. Holstein’s friend Elisabeth took over the conversation.

Karin Holstein

Karin Holstein

“She would love to do it,” Elizabeth said. To overcome Holstein’s sense of fear, she was assured they would only be modeling winter clothes, and her psoriasis would be completely hidden.

After she began modeling part-time, she fell in love with a doctor in his fifties, Jean-Louis. He was “well-read, romantic, and handsome,” she says. The younger men at school seemed silly and immature by comparison. The two spent weekends at his cottage on an island off the south of France and another home he owned in the French countryside.

The older man began to mold Holstein into “his ideal image,” and convinced her that exercise and an improved diet would help her psoriasis. Prior to this, she admits her favorite foods were cheesecake and chocolate. The new regimen seemed to help, and her modeling career began to soar. “In a very short time I worked for magazines such as Vogue, Marie-Claire, and Elle,” Holstein says (…)

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Mark Ellis is a senior correspondent for ASSIST News Service and the founder  He is available to speak to groups about the plight of the church in restricted countries, to share stories and testimonies from the mission field, and to preach the gospel.

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