I thought this TED Talk was insightful, refreshing and incredibly candid. Cameron is eloquent, provides shockingly ‘real’ talk about the illusion of beauty, modelling, and self-esteem. She also shares some of her own images, both real life and covers, to show how much goes in to the photographs we see everyday.
Excerpt from TED blog.
“I always just say I was scouted, but that means nothing,” Russell says in her talk. “The real way I became a model is that I won a genetic lottery, and I am a recipient of a legacy. 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 with femininity and white skin. This is a legacy that was built for me, and that I’ve been cashing in on.”
In this talk, Russell delivers two powerful messages: First, that young girls who dream of being a model should think of it like they would winning Powerball—something to shoot for, but “not a career path.” Second, Russell takes on the tendency to think that life would be better and easier if we were more beautiful. Russell’s response: “If you ever think, ‘If I had thinner thighs and shinier hair, wouldn’t I be happier,” you just need to meet a group of models. 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.”
But Russell has another point she wants to convey too. While many bemoan the use of Photoshop for making models look thinner and imperfection-free, Russell says that this is just the tip of the iceberg. To hear more about how the image of sex appeal is carefully constructed from the ground up, watch her bold talk. And after the jump, pay attention as Russell shares the reality behind some of her sexy images.
This is the very first photo that Cameron Russell ever took as a model, shot for the magazine Allure in 2003, when she had just turned 16. Yes, she may look like the beacon of femininity. But she hadn’t so much as gotten her period yet. To hammer the point home of just how young she was at the time, she’s contrasted the image with a bathing-suit shot of her with her grandma, taken just a months before.
Russell looks like a siren in this red bikini. Despite looking well into her 20s in the image, she was just a teenager when the photo was taken. For argument’s sake, here’s a photo of her on the beach with a friend taken the same day. Her look: polka-dotted innocence.
Another illustration of how young Russell was as she embarked on her early modeling career—in this shot, she looks beautifully brooding in a shot for French Vogue. However, she was giggly at a slumber party just days before.
I’ve long held the belief that when it comes to promoting positive body image, the WORST thing we can do is start picking apart each others bodies. Time and time again, I see women (well-intentioned, intelligent, pro-lady women) tear down models for their ultra thin frames & it makes me sad and angry.
While we have a substantial body image crisis in terms of representation & diversity, the models we see are women who’ve been hired BY an industry that’s looking to sell us a product (note: that formula only works when we buy into it). They are hired specifically for their looks & they have a genetic “advantage” (if you choose to see it that way). But when I think of the abnormal pressure to be ‘thin’ in today’s world, I count them among the victims. I’d have to argue that no other group of women is so heavily targeted, pressured or bullied to be thin, ideal and flawless. Depression, eating disorders and body image issues are issues that plague the modeling industry, and their world isn’t as glamorous as we’d like to believe.
Sexual harassment, industry bullying and abuse also run rampant within the industry. A new organization, Models Alliance, is hoping to change that, and also hopes to encourage healthier practices amongst models, better work conditions and assistance (psychological) for models in distress. Remember that many of these women get into the industry very, VERY young.
Health is what I’m all about. These measures will not change much in terms of the standards of beauty required to make it to the runway: they’ll still be beautiful, tall & thin. But healthy is something I’d like to add to that list. It’s far too common to hear of models dying before the age 30 due to health problems from years of eating disorders, fueled by insecurity, pressure and bullying from a young, YOUNG age.
Baby steps in the right direction.
Excerpt via Blisstree
It’s probably safe to assume that when most people think of modeling, they equate it to an easy job where beautiful girls get to walk around in beautiful clothes all day. But if you ask them, they would likely tell you that it’s anything but the glamorous picture some people paint. In fact, it can include downright deplorable conditions that include sexual harassment, abuse and bullying. Thank goodness models are finally realizing this and fighting back with a new Models Alliance that will hopefully provide the industry with healthier role models.
Model Sara Ziff founded the nonprofit organization because she was tired of the treatment she and other models were receiving. The alliance is seeking to establish workplace standards, that will, among other things, include privacy to stop unauthorized nude photos and clear the backstage area of photographers and non-essential staff when the models are changing clothes. They also seek to reduce child labor infringements and provide advice on how to handle body image bullying and sexual harassment, which she says are all too common in this industry.
I’m pretty sure the controversy was unintended: Donna’s been doing work in Haiti since the earthquake and has been a big supporter of helping the country get back on its feet.
But… how many people looked at and approved this ad without thinking it might stir some pots? Granted, the images are ‘pretty’ but the ad campaign certainly rubbed me the wrong way: fancy model Adriana Lima posed seductively in front of 2 Haitian men who are left in the background, almost in a cave = wtf. Are people so far removed that they didn’t see WHY expensively clothed models in one of the poorest nations in the world might be a little… well, slap-in-the-facey?
Many are calling the ads imperialistic, and while I don’t think that was the intention, I agree. Left with a yuck feeling.
According to Karan, the line was inspired by the work of Haitian artist Philippe Dodard, who’s known for his sculptures and abstract paintings of human figures. CocoPerez suggested the line would have been more appropriate using Haitian models. While they still would have been wearing those expensive clothes, it might have garnered more good will.
And, sidenote, where are the profits going?
What do you think?