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.