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A Victoria’s Secret Model Breaks Down Privilege and Physical Insecurity in This TED Talk [VIDEO]

Victoria’s Secret model Cameron Russell gives honest answers to questions about the superficiality—and the importance—of physical appearance in our society. Speaking as someone who fully acknowledges her success stems from her winning the “genetic lottery,” Russell’s perspective is quite interesting. My favorite part is when she explains what she wants to say to little girls when they tell her they want to be a model: That they should instead aspire to ”Be my boss. Because I’m not in charge of anything. And you could be the editor-in-chief of American Vogue or the CEO of H&M or the next [legendary fashion photographer] Steven Meisel.”

(It would be great if she actually told them that, but I won’t judge her for it.)

(via: Death and Taxes)

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  • Anatasia Beaverhousen

    The greatest of respect to her and all, she made a really nice speech and gave some excellent points, I particularly liked her showcasing photos of herself on a normal day, next to the photoshoot pictures. But when someone says that they won the genetic lottery, then says “Oh, but I’m still insecure” even though they work in the industry which helps to perpetuate the impossible body image that makes so many of us feel like crap about ourselves, all I can think is: ‘Now where is that teen tiny violin?’

  • Anonymous

    I personally view the fact that she’s insecure shows how false and hollow the whole genetic lottery actually is. Money doesn’t buy you happiness, beauty doesn’t make you any less insecure (or any less open to scrutiny and criticism).

  • Terence Ng

    That’s what i got from that, too. She specifically brings up the concept of supposedly “perfect women” not perceiving themselves as “perfect” in the context of other people believing (“the answer they’re looking for”) that if they looked like them, they would be happy. She uses the reality of her experiences to show that the beauty myth is a myth. Beauty doesn’t equate greater satisfaction with self.

    I wish her talk was a bit deeper and more in depth, but I’m glad that she really spoke honestly about privilege in a way that’s accessible. I think she was nervous, but I really hope she’ll keep developing this talk and craft it into something much longer.

  • Anonymous

    Well said!

  • Amanda B. McPeck

    As I watched this, I kept thinking of Brene Brown’s TED talks on shame and vulnerability. Ms. Russell’s voice was clearly shaking – she made herself very vulnerable up there personally and professionally. I might have to use Dr. Brown’s videos and this one to facility a class discussion someday.

  • Anonymous

    Having been friends with and around a few models (their friends/peers) I can definitely agree their personal images of themselves was rarely complimentary. I’d always found it fascinating they could make a cutting remark about a normal person (how can she go in public looking like that?!) yet in the same conversation also criticize their own appearance even though an average person would likely see them as looking great in comparison to others. I may not be right, but in my mind I’d always looked at their insecurity as being like a professional and highly accomplished musician compared to a typical kid still learning how to play basic material. To my ear they may sound light years better, yet for themselves all they hear is their own mistakes. Its an unequal standard but if you think about it it applies to whatever skills or professions we have in our daily lives as well. For what I do, I’m expected to be much better than someone who isn’t paid to do what I do. A dentist is expected to be much better in their field than someone who only visits a dentist… Because models are paid for their looks, not for their performance, there’s no escaping the criticism or failures. If I make a mistake in my job I can seek help to learn how to do it correctly, or even change jobs. There’s not much more a model can do if they are already giving their appearance all possible effort, they are who they are…

  • Bridget

    I watched this a few days ago, and I’m surprised to say it’s really changed the way I think about myself and my body. I owe her a great deal.