Splattered across the media this week is Kristen McMenamy, a supermodel and mother of three who was featured on the August cover of Italian Vogue. She appears inside in a striking (some say offensive) photo spread, lying on her back against jagged rocks, wearing a black feathered dress, in a way designed to mimic the aesthetic of the Gulf oil spill images. But I was more intrigued by the model's hair: The 45-year-old boldly flaunts her naturally long gray locks, telling Vogue Daily, "You can get older and still be rock-'n'-roll. I thought all that gray hair would make a beautiful picture.

I'm a fan of embracing the way God made us, but I have to confess feeling a little conflicted about the hoopla. I suspect my reticence is not unrelated to the fact that McMenamy still has the body of a Barbie.

At age 41, I have most of my cranial pigment, but I see where things are headed. If I live enough years, if you live enough years, the physical downhill slide is inevitable. The pigment fails. Once-toned arms get flabby. Other things start to jiggle, sag, wrinkle. If all this weren't insulting enough, physical losses give way to social losses as we lose the ability to turn heads with our beauty.

As is my way, I like to make issues like sagging breasts and jiggly thighs theological. Specifically, I'm dying to get a handle on the divine logic behind the aging situation. What holy madness drives wrinkles and age spots?

I humbly invite you to join me in considering one weird possibility: I wonder if this process that is clearly happening against our wills—as the volume of beauty products that promise to reverse aging's attests—isn't what Jesus has been inviting us to embrace, all along, with our wills.

"Hold on, Margot. Jesus never said anything about crows' feet or yellowing teeth or declining breast altitude." Not in so many words. But to those who want to gain their lives—and maybe the attention of others—Jesus instructs us to lose our lives. Those who want to be first—say, in the high-school homecoming court—should aim for last place. Those who want to increase—possibly in attractiveness—should decrease. Jesus even taught his friends that those who want to attract God's good favor should give themselves in ways that don't attract the good favor of others. Downward social mobility is exactly what Jesus has been inviting us to embrace, all along. Though the apostle Paul wasn't thinking about eye circles or thinning scalps, he confirms, "We who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body" (2 Cor. 4:11).
According to this kingdom logic, if we want to be seen, we should purpose to really see others. If we want to be heard, we should listen, really listen, to those whose voices haven't been heard. If we want to be loved, we should knock ourselves out loving the unlovable. Though Jesus placed no particular value on garnering the admiring eye of others, with our shimmering lips or blinding teeth or bouncy locks, he really did knock himself out reminding us to turn our young and middle-aged and old faces toward those whom his Father loves, especially those on the world's so-called margins.

In the end, the reality of the aging situation effectively dissolves any illusion that this life—or the next one, for that matter—is all about us. As we die to ourselves, whether purposefully or kicking and screaming, we relinquish whatever power we might have had to attract attention with our appearances. When we do it willingly, we live into Jesus' good will for us. We make more room for others to be seen and heard and known and loved.

If you are young and gorgeous, and maybe have aspirations to be America's Next Top Model, I completely understand that this whole set up seems unsavory. For those of us who want to age with grace, though, there's real promise as we choose this Jesus-way. As we begin to embrace the inevitable losses inherent in aging we're freed up, in a particular way, for the kind of self-giving love for which we were made.

As for Kristen McMenamy, even with the Barbie body she might have something important to teach Christian women.

Margot Starbuck is the author most recently of Unsqueezed: Springing Free from Skinny Jeans, Nose Jobs, Highlights and Stilettos (InterVarsity Press). Alicia Cohn has interviewed her for the women's blog.