By NICKY CHAMP
“Saying that you want to be a model when you grow up is akin to saying that you want to win the Powerball when you grow up. It’s out of your control and it’s awesome — and it’s not a career path.”
This is just one of the honest, surprising and incredibly insightful thoughts shared by Victoria’s Secret model, Cameron Russell in her recent TED talk that has quickly gone viral.
During the nine minute speech (take the time if you possibly can), Russell tackles the issue of body image, challenges our society’s perception of beauty and talks about how, at age 16, the fashion industry “constructed” a highly sexualised and unrealistic image of her.
Russell also advises little girls who aspire to be models to consider careers as “ninja cardio-thoracic poets” instead.
Every minute of her speech is worth watching:
If you can’t watch the video because you’re still hanging out for that national broadband network to be connected (congrats to the 27 people who are hooked up) or you’re at work and your boss expects you to you know, work (outrageous) – then we’ve broken down Russell’s message below.
She tells the assembled crowd that: “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 and femininity and white skin and this is a legacy that was built for me and this is a legacy I’ve cashed out on.”
Russell goes on to demonstrate the reality behind six of her fashion editorial images for Vogue, V and Allure magazines. She effortlessly dispels the common belief that life would be better or easier if only we were slimmer or more beautiful.
“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,” Rusell says.
Russell (in her 10 years of experience in the industry) confirms that most of the fashion images we see are not only retouched but manipulated by teams of people in order to portray unattainable levels of perfection/beauty/sex appeal.