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Image is Powerful but is Superficial - Cameron Russell



MIND, BEAUTY & WORLD


"Image is Powerful but is Superficial"

Cameron Russell at TEDx


Cameron Russell admits she won “a genetic lottery”: she's tall, pretty and an underwear model. But don't judge her by her looks. In this fearless talk, she takes a wry look at the industry that had her looking highly seductive at barely 16-years-old. 


Cameron Russell wants to have a discussion about the way that we, as a society, perceive beauty. Media representations of women, she says, are replete with racist and sexist representations, encouraging women to live up to a standard that is both oppressive and unattainable. Russell’s profession offers an insider’s perspective on the topic – after all, she has been modeling for over a decade .

"Image is powerful…but also, image is superficial. Barring surgery (or the fake tan I got for work) there’s very little we can do to transform how we look. And how we look — although it is superficial and immutable — has a huge impact on our lives. Today for me, being fearless means being honest. And I am on this stage because I’m a model — I’m on this stage because I am a pretty, white woman. In my industry we call that a ‘sexy girl’"  Cameron Russell.



Whatch this great talk with Cameron Russell


This talk was presented to a local audience at TEDxMidAtlantic, an independent event.



Cameron Russell has stomped the runways for Victoria's Secret and Chanel, and has appeared in many magazines. 

But she is much more than just a pretty face.




 

Why you should listen?


Cameron Russell has spent the last decade modeling. A Victoria's Secret favorite, she has appeared in multiple international editions of Vogue as well as in ads for brands like Ralph Lauren and Benetton. But she feels at her core that image isn't everything.

Cameron runs the blog ArtRoots.info, which is dedicated to covering grassroots public art and political power. She also experiments with creating street art herself. In addition, Cameron is the director of The Big Bad Lab, which creates participatory art that aims to include people in radical demonstrations of positive social change.


She's a co-founder of the new web-based magazine Interrupt, about women, identity, the internet and taking action. Read an update on her work in the New York Times


Model Cameron Russell, in her talk at TEDxMidAtlantic


Image is powerful…but also, image is superficial. Barring surgery (or the fake tan I got for work) there’s very little we can do to transform how we look. And how we look — although it is superficial and immutable — has a huge impact on our lives.

Today for me, being fearless means being honest. And I am on this stage because I’m a model — I’m on this stage because I am a pretty, white woman. In my industry we call that a ‘sexy girl.’

And I am going to answer the questions that people always ask me — but with an honest twist. The first question is, ‘How do you become a model?’ And I always just say, ‘Oh, I was scouted,’ but that means nothing. The real way that I became a model is I won a genetic lottery and I am the recipient of a legacy. And maybe you’re wondering. ‘What is a legacy?’ Well, for the past few centuries, we have defined beauty not just as health and youth and symmetry that we’re biologically programmed to admire, but also as tall, slender figures, and femininity, and white skin. And this a legacy that was built for me, and this is a legacy I’ve been cashing out on.

…People ask me, ‘What is it like to be a model?’ And I think the answer that they are looking for is that if you are a little bit skinnier and you have shinier hair, you will be so happy and fabulous. And when we’re backstage, we give an answer that maybe makes it seem like that: We say, ‘It’s really amazing to travel,’ and, ‘It’s amazing to get to work with creative, inspired, passionate people’—and those things are true, but they’re only one half of the story because the thing that we never say on camera, that I have never said on camera, is… I’m insecure.

And I’m insecure because I have to think about what I look like every day. And if you ever are wondering, ‘if I have thinner thighs and shinier hair, will I be happier?’ you just need to meet a group of models, because they have the thinnest thighs and the shiniest hair and the coolest clothes and they are the most physically-insecure women probably on the planet.

So when I was writing this talk, I found it very difficult to strike an honest balance because — on one hand — I felt very uncomfortable to come out here and say, ‘Look, I’ve received all these benefits from a deck stacked in my favor,’ and I also felt really uncomfortable to follow that up with, ‘And — it doesn’t always make me happy.’

But, mostly, it was difficult to unpack a legacy of gender and racial oppression, when I’m one of the biggest beneficiaries.





TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.
 

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Source:


Looks aren't everything. Believe me, I'm a model.

Cameron Russell at TEDxMidAtlantic  (CC BY-NC-ND)

 

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