Cameron Russell transforms herself from hot model to girl-next-door in six seconds after walking on stage for a TED Talk. All she did was trade six-inch heels for flats, wrap a long skirt over her mini and pull on a sweater.
Image is superficial.
But it’s also powerful.
Once when she had wanted to buy a dress, but forgotten her money, she got the dress for free.
Yet a brown-skinned woman might be followed around the store, identified as a potential shoplifter.
When a friend of Cameron’s got pulled over for running a red light, the supermodel uttered, ”Sorry, officer” and they got off scott free.
Meanwhile, a dark-skinned man driving by could get pulled over for DWB: driving while black – or brown.
I live in New York, and last year, of the 140,000 teenagers that were stopped and frisked, 86 percent of them were black and Latino, and most of them were young men. And there are only 177,000 young black and Latino men in New York, so for them, it’s not a question of, “Will I get stopped?” but “How many times will I get stopped? When will I get stopped?”
Young girls often ask Ms. Russell, “Can I be a model when I grow up?” Being a model would be a real self-esteem boost, right? It won’t. Cameron says models are some of the most insecure women on the planet. After all, they are always expected to be “the best,” but are constantly picked apart by fashion editors.
And sure, you can make a lot of money. But modeling is not a career path, she adds:
What I really want to say to these little girls is, “Why? You know? You can be anything. You could be the President of the United States, or the inventor of the next Internet, or a ninja cardio-thoracic surgeon poet, which would be awesome, because you’d be the first one.
Unfortunately after you’ve gone to school, and you have a résumé and you’ve done a few jobs, if you say you want to be the President of the United States, but your résumé reads, “Underwear Model: 10 years,” people give you a funny look.
You know… dumb blondes… airhead models…
The body creates illusions. Illusions about who is good and bad, who is worthy or not, who is smart and dumb.
Cameron Russell hopes that sharing her experience will help reveal “the power of image in our perceived successes and our perceived failures.”
You can see her whole TED Talk here.
Posted on March 5, 2014, in body image, feminism, psychology, race/ethnicity, women and tagged body image, Cameron Russell, feminism, psychology, race, TED Talk, women. Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.