Beauty Tricks To Remove Your Self-Esteem

cameron-russell-tedxtalk1“Can I be a model when I grow up?” 

That’s a question girls often ask model, Cameron Russell.

The lure of big money is likely a draw. But there’s probably also a yearning to feel beautiful, and therefore, worthy — and at the top of the pecking order.

As she was prepping for a TED Talk on the subject, Cameron learned that:

Of the 13-year-old girls in the United States, 53 percent don’t like their bodies, and that number goes to 78 percent by the time that they’re 17.

But if you are looking for self-esteem, modeling is not the way to go, she adds, 

I am 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’re the most physically insecure women probably on the planet.

The models portray an ideal to grasp for. But the goal cannot be reached — given the mix of starvation, Photoshop, and 14-year-old bodies that is required.

But it goes beyond that. Cameron says the pictures aren’t even her. They are constructions.

This picture is the first modeling job she had. She looks like a sex vixen. Yet she hadn’t even had a period yet. And it was the first time she had worn a bikini. Next to that picture is Cameron with her grandma just a few months earlier.

cameron-russell-pic-grandma

And as she says in the caption below, she’d never even had a boyfriend before this shot was taken:

 cam-russell-bf

Now check out the contrast between Cameron in V Magazine and Cameron on her soccer team:

cameron-russell-soccar

And here she is today. In real life, and as fashion construction.

cameron-russell-today

So if you look at these kinds of pictures in fashion mags and don’t feel as sexy and hot as Cameron, no matter how hard you try, don’t feel bad. She didn’t – and doesn’t – look that way, either.

She adds,

I hope what you’re seeing is that these pictures are not pictures of me. They are constructions, and they are constructions by a group of professionals, by hairstylists and makeup artists and photographers and stylists and all of their assistants and pre-production and post-production, and they build this. That’s not me.

You can see the whole TED Talk here:

Related Posts on BroadBlogs

Men Are Naturally Attracted To Unnatural Women

Low Self-Esteem? Blame Beauty Myths

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych, women's psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State University. And I have blogged for Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos.

Posted on April 16, 2014, in body image, feminism, objectification, psychology, women and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 33 Comments.

  1. Poor things…and to think they are called ‘models’. More like clothes-hangers or mannequins. And they must be under constant pressure to prove they are ‘more than just their body.’

    All things said, I’m just happy the way I am.

    • A lot of girls strive to be like them, and get down on themselves when they can’t attain the ideal — not realizing that even the models aren’t like “themselves” in reality.

  2. I think her beauty is even vaster in the au natural pictures- there is an aliveness to them because she doesn’t have to constrict herself into her poses. I love that she exposed the truth about what goes on.

  3. Are there laws in the U.S. against using models that young for certain things. This seems to ring with my post from yesterday. She’s 12 and she shouldn’t be used as a sex object. Even more, 12-year-olds should not think they have to aspire to be like that. I mean, her modeling images are beautiful… it just disturbs me how young she is in them and how provocatively she is posed.

  4. I saw this talk a little while ago and I thought she was great. It is disturbing using very young girls in provocative poses isn’t it.

  5. I think Cameron looks more real and beautiful in her candid photos. There is a realism that goes along with that, because women don’t have perfect bodies, but that’s what makes it beautiful and unique. I think there is also a lot of pressure from the media and society for women to look a certain way, however, it is an unattainable and unhealthy beauty. I recently watched a documentary called MissRepresentation which goes into more depth about how this portrayal of women is having a negative affect on young women-very interesting!

  6. This article is very interesting to me. I know there are tens of thousands of people especially girls who want to be like models. I can understand why they are yearning so because the models look like cooler, the more fascinating, or the thinner than the general people. However, I think models always sacrifice themselves for their job. I guess they are always hungry and they are always sleepy because I heard that models especially who are really famous cannot sleep enough. Therefore, I guess they are in danger to live because of their life styles. I also agree with the topic that the models are constructed. They can be the models by helping by other assistants or technicians. They must be the ideal at the work field. Thus, I reflect that girls should adjust their ages or personalities, and they shouldn’t long for the excessive objects.

  7. I’m also one of these girls that don’t like their own looks and body, and I don’t remember how many times I thought that I wish I can look like or I have a body like a model in magazine. So, it was really surprising to know that not only she but most of the models feel insecure. However after I watched her TED talk, I kind of understood why they feel insecure and how nonsense people’s prejudices are which is a little bit shocking to me. Well, it’s hard to say that our society should be fair to everyone because they are born that way, but as long as both these models and people in general (although I don’t prefer to say like that) have some struggles, still I’d say that our society should have fair eyes to everyone.

  8. I find this extremely sad; the modeling world is secretly a dark place. The truth is no one is perfect enough to be a model but they find people (women in particular) close enough to perfect they then manipulate the models into changing themselves. “You know we would hire you but we are looking for a blonde no a brunette” Of course you want the money and if all you have to do is change your hair color why not? That is just the beginning soon they will ask you to lose weight, get a tan, wear colored contacts and then these evil people don’t even use the original photos they take they Photoshop them into “the perfect model”. This is what young children grow up with and they have no Idea that it is all fake. These fake images then give them unreasonable expectations on how they themselves should look. Imagine a world where modeling didn’t exist I bet people would be happier with themselves because there wouldn’t be much to compare to

  9. I think the more technology progresses, the worse the advertising business gets. Not to say that the marketing business was good to begin with, but the fact that it creates the wrong message for girls around the world.

    “But if you are looking for self-esteem, modeling is not the way to go”
    Those words cannot be any truer as many models usually depict how fake modeling tends to be. Cameron Russell seems to explain the situation on modeling very well as it shows how false the model Cameron is compared to the reality of Cameron.

    Sadly, I don’t think the modeling business is going to get any better since we live in a technological world, meaning improved photoshop, meaning more false images of unrealistic women.

    Photoshop is a crazy technology to be able to turn a pizza into a woman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9j656_RiO0k

  10. Khaoula Mouman

    This post opened my eyes to see that some models aren’t who they think they are. I always perceived them as perfect, have always thought that they never had to worry about their figure and to read that some are the complete opposite of what I have always believed is astonishing. The comparison of pictures that were shown also appalled me. There is a tremendous difference between the casual picture taken of Cameron Russell and the one that was taken at her job. What also surprised me was the fact that the photographer made her uncomfortable while at a photo shoot. I’m assuming she chose the modeling career because that’s what she loves to do, her being uncomfortable at her job totally defeats the purpose of her doing what she loves.

  11. It’s astonishing how big the number is of 13 year Olds that don’t like there body! When I was that age nobody was worrying about how good they looked school was our biggest problem. But I have noticed that with social media and all this new technology we have that has given us the ability to photo shop and share all these pictures has played a major influence on what beauty is. Especially in the younger girls who want to look like the people in the magazines not knowing all of it is fake. With this amount of 13 year Olds worrying about what there body image is its not surprising that that number only gets bigger as you get older.

  12. I have always known that the whole fashion and model industry is all about constructions. But when I was younger, I hoped to be one of the models too, and I believe most of the girls all at least had a thought that wish to be skinny as models or pretty like them. Seeing the differences between Russell’s photo shot and her real life, I think it explains everything about this industry. Sadly, a lot of girls go on diet or plastic surgeries to look like these models when the images of them are not even real. Girls, especially young girls are losing their uniqueness just to be like “constructed” models. This kind of misleading for young girls can harm them both mentally and physically, and the constructions from modeling industry should be responsible for it.

  13. Jelissa Blanco

    I don’t understand how they can use pictures of this young girl, or how her parents would even allow her to be in these magazines. I think their should be an age limit to things like this. As mentioned in the comments above girls are insecure because guys have such high expectations for how a girl should look. And a girl thinks if she doesn’t look like a model she is fat or unattractive. None of this is true, not everyone can be as thin or have shiny hair like a model. Everyone is beautiful in their own way, and the sooner one learns that the better and happier they will be.

    • I completely agree Jelissa. The sad truth is that some parents approve this sort of thing. Young girls are exposed because the “perfect body” according to media is a malnourished skeletal structure, which often looks and is referred to as a body of a young child. Media portrays an unachievable idea of “perfection”, and it’s all the work of photoshop and professionals creating their “masterpiece”. The issue is both sided – people need to remember to think realistically in these situations and that in the real world this idea is completely unattainable and no one should allow their thoughts with such negative thoughts. But, media needs to change their idea of perfect and perhaps talk more about how they are manipulating the human form to create art in photography or fashion or the human body. I think it’s definitely growing and becoming much more open minded, especially in the last few years.

  14. The pressure on women to look a certain way has only been exasperated since women began to get equal rights. Models have only been getting skinner since the 1950’s and the ideal of beauty, as mentioned, is unattainable. In Tina Fey’s book “Bossy Pants” she says that photoshopping is alright as long as everyone realizes that it’s happening and that no one really looks like that. Yet, the more I actually think about it, I don’t look at pictures in magazines and think “Yeah, that’s photoshopped”, I think “Wow that girl looks amazing”. So I think the argument for photoshop is invalid. We should be presenting women with healthy body shapes as the ideals for clothes, because it influences girls’ subconscious more than anyone is willing to admit.

    • You are absolutely right that the increased focus on women’s looks is a backlash to women’s rights. Get them to base their self-esteem on their looks, and then create an impossible standard to live up to, and you are bound to diminish women’s self-esteem and sense of self. You’re also likely to get them to spend so much time focused on their looks that they can’t focus on increasing their political power. How convenient. See this:

      Self-Esteem Falls with Rise in Power? Blame Beauty Ideals

      http://broadblogs.com/2011/06/27/self-esteem-falls-with-rise-in-power-blame-beauty-ideals/

      And thinking Photoshop is okay isn’t a feminist position. I couldn’t tell from your comment whether you thought it was. I read Tina Fey’s take on it. She seems to be okay with Photoshopping out things like razor stubble. It was more like, “How is it being used”? It is a comedic peace. Here’s a link to the quote http://slightlyintrepid.blogspot.com/2012/08/tina-fey-on-photoshop.html

  15. It’s interesting reading that there are 13 year old girls that are worried about heir appearance and how they look because when I think back to when I was a 13 year old I never even thought about my body like that. I was not worried about what I wore or how I looked and I think it was because I hadn’t been “corrupted” to think otherwise. I also find it ironic that a model that is usually someone who portrays society’s perception of “beauty” can feel so insecure of themselves when they are the people that are used to show us what “beautiful” looks like. And I hope that girls growing up will learn that worry about your body and how you look like so you can be accepted isn’t the best thing to do. It’s better to just love yourself instead of trying to be/look like someone else.

  16. This was a really good read, because it reminds us women that we are human.

    Sometimes, I think we stray away from that because of what the media portrays females as. We often see these models and celebrities made up and we tend to be jealous of their physique, physical attributes- but we forget that they are just like us. Often times, if we had the same people they did, the hairdressers, make-up artists, and professional photographers, we could be just like them.

    I mean after all…Have you SEEN Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj without make-up?!

  17. I’ve heard about this countless times, and I am not surprised that models are as against the “media” look as much as most women can be. First off, I have always had mixed feelings toward models and modelling for both males and females. However, it is more prominently made out toward women. My position is fairly simple: I wouldn’t ever encourage a girl I know to be a model as I think it is a terrible occupation both psychologically/emotionally/socially, but if I meet a model, I don’t argue against them. If a women chooses to become one, that is her choice. While I think it is not the best of choices, it does pay well and takes a lot of hard work and commitment and can make someone feel rewarded. However, I think it does so much damage to a person’s self image and self esteem, as well as distorts the world’s expectation of beauty.

    My sisters have auditioned and been accepted to a modelling agency, and I have a few friends that have done it. All I ever have heard about it is how stressful and fake everything is. The amount of makeup and artificial changes that are made to an original photo is astounding and makes you question why they use real people to begin with. The only positive I really see from modelling is that of financial gain. Even the publicity is bad in my opinion because, let’s face it, it’s sex appeal. Women will judge and criticize models for thinking they are better than everyone else when they are just the same, and men will just want to get to know them because they are a model. Cameron is spot on with everything she said and I feel bad that athletes have to be forced into doing shots like this, especially at a young age.

  18. It is very sad that these days we have 13 year olds that worry more about looks when they shouldn’t worry about such things at their age. Could this be part of human nature? It seems like most girls growing up always find something to dislike about their face, body, etc. This post is a great example of how “models” sometimes seem like something that in reality is not what they are. When we see a magazine and we see a beatufil model with nice make-up and hair we can only hope to look like that, when in reality, as the post describes, this is all construction; however this creates an image to young girls about what they “should” look like. As we get older we realize how these models look so perfect, by being photoshopped, but when you’re young and naive you can only wish to look like the model on a magazine cover. The pressure that girls get due to these images is what causes these 13 year olds to find something wrong with themselves.

  19. I found as a 13 year old it was not the model aspect that I found myself wanting to emulate but the woman my body lacked to be what I found detouring me from my own form. I wanted to look older rather than more pretty. I felt I had a fairly decent tv role model if there was to be one from tv and if anything other parents would chastise my mom for the violence of the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Otherwise the tv show did a very good job of dealing with the real life problems of teens without making them awkward to talk about and without over sexualizing the females and instead making them strong without making them feminist in a way that could be annoying. The show had a strong female character for every type of girl to identify with and feel empowered by without objectification in any of the stereotyping. The rest of my role models were real women but older non the less so I found I appreciated myself but still wanted to look as old as I felt, and was, inside.

  20. For a short time I was obsessed with the idea of image and how I looked to others – I’d often think thoughts like “Am I pretty enough to them?” “Do they like me?” “Do they think my outfit is cute?”
    When I was thinking these insecure thoughts it was truly a plague. It’s not fun to be constantly haunted and never, ever fully satisfied because somewhere in your head there is something telling you someone is not liking your outfit or how to you look, and it makes you insecure.

    Somewhere at some point as I matured and grew older I learned to change those questions to things like “Do I think I’m pretty enough?” “Do I like me?” “Do I think my outfit is cute?” Quite frankly – it’s no one else’s opinion but mine that matters, and everyone should feel the same with themselves. And the answer to all those questions should be yes, every time.

    I can’t imagine living the light of a model. It’s just sad to me.

  21. Great post. It’s sad that most of the women we see in today’s magazines don’t actually reflect real women. And that the “ideal body” we see in these magazines are simply just enhanced with makeup, airbrushing, and photoshop. Talk about false advertisement. However, many still find themselves wanting to emulate that. And I think this can relate to a lot of young girls and women. It would be nice to see more of “real” and healthy women on the front cover of a beauty magazine for a change. And I’m talking about no enhancements or beauty tricks. Society needs to accept that you don’t have to be skinny or have flawless skin in order to be beautiful. Instead, we should encourage women to be healthy because healthy IS beautiful.

  22. Lenore hamilton

    This blog made me concerned for young girls and their ideas about and dislikes of themselves, specifically my own grandchildren. It’s alarming to know that more than half of girls in the US age 13 don’t like their bodies with the number growing for girls by the age of 17. I have granddaughters who are products of the world and they are exposed to the myths of what the world views as beautiful. At one time my granddaughters were consumed about their looks. I found them constantly in the mirror, complaining about their flaws and obsessed with their complexion. I also found them comparing their bodies to their peers. I can’t help but blame the media and society for attempting to destroy what me and my family had done to empower the girls and their self esteem. All forms of media have somewhat negatively impacted young girls about their belief of beauty and personal image. This blog is confirmation that everything that’s seen on television and through advertisements aren’t real. I’ve learned that it’s my job to teach my girls their own definition of beauty.

  23. Christine Cortez

    A few years ago in my sociology class we did a debate. The debate was on weather or not young girls should be able to play with Barbie dolls and how they influence their rolls on young girls body images. After reading the blog it really reminded me of how hard we are on our selves to look a certain way just to feel beautiful. It’s sad to think that we have to put on so much makeup, and strive to have a body figure just to fit in with what we see on tv and also magazines. Back in the 1950’s woman who we’re curvy we’re beautiful, now they are also known as plus size, and are frowned upon. It is such a cruel world to see how serious it can affect ones health. There have been so many women who have starved themselves just to be skinny. We need to feel beautiful in every way, not just what we look like but how we feel. I believe that women should accept the way they we’re created and how we’re all different for a reason.

  24. I have always been hard on myself about my appearance, because I have always been so tiny. I have always been called names like anorexic, but that could be farther from the truth. Things like that are what I believe to have caused my insecurities, it is hard not to care about what other people think. I found it surprising to read that even the most beautiful models are not comfortable with what they look like, when they’re image is their entire career. I think that mainly women are hard on themselves about their appearance, maybe it has something to do with our brain structure. I just find it sad that even at a young age girls are worried about how they look rather than enjoying who they are.

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