Day 25–Cameron Russell: Looks Aren’t Everything

For a while now I’ve been meaning to watch a few TED Talks.  These talks are about 10 minutes in length and are offered by “the world’s most inspired thinkers” in order to “change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world.”  Imagine my surprise when Sam found a talk yesterday given by Cameron Russell.  Now, I’ll admit, Cameron Russell isn’t a well known name in my world.  But if you’ve ever looked at a Victoria’s Secret catalog, secretly thinking in the deep recesses of your mind, “Oh, if I only looked like her…” you’ve likely coveted Cameron Russell’s body.  Imagine my greater surprise when I connected the dots and realized a Victoria’s Secret model was offering a TED talk.  Hmmm….

The title of her talk is “Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model.”  Let’s all break here and follow the link below to her 9 minute 38 second talk.  If you have less time than that at your disposal, you can look at the transcript and skip to any point in her talk.  I will say, though, I found her to be an engaging, articulate speaker that I would want to hold as an honest example of fearless truth telling before my 10 year old daughter.  Cameron Russell’s Talk

Now that we’ve seen the beauty and heard her honest reflection on a model’s life, let me comment on my take away’s.

  1. “Image is powerful.”  At bunco on Friday night I was sitting with my neighbor, Reanna, and another neighborhood mom who is a physician.  Like many of you I hold physicians in high regard if for no other reason than I’m fascinated by the inner-workings of the human body and would love to have a piece of the knowledge that her education has given her about the miracle that is our bodies. While I was lamenting over an ongoing issue we have with Addison (our 10 year old), she said with a somewhat surprised tone, “Oh, good.  You’re not the perfect parent.  It makes me feel so much better about myself because you’re having struggles, too.”  I wondered what image I had been portraying to this mom…and maybe other moms, too.  Do I present the image that I’m a perfect parent?  That we don’t have any problems?  That I’ve got it all under control?  This is not the image I want to portray.  It is far more important to me that I present an image that is marked by honesty, integrity, and my humanity, acknowledging my imperfections and working through them in community with one another.  If you think I’m a perfect mom, please remove that image from your mind.  I am not, nor will I ever be.
  2. One of the most helpful thoughts to me that Cameron offered is the idea that what we see of her in print or on the runway is not just something that is re-touched.  It’s a construction.  More on this tomorrow.  That’s too deep a thought for me to include in one bullet point.
  3. Ooh, another really personal topic…insecurities.  She admits that models are the most physically insecure people on the planet.  This makes sense to me, although I had never thought of it before.  Do I have enough courage to vomit out words about my deep insecurities on this blog?  I guess if I want to live a life of honesty you’ll get to read my processing of this topic later on this week.  Oh, that feels scary and I think my heart rate just increased a little bit.
  4. Finally, her assessment of gender and racial oppression was courageous, wasn’t it?  Do you agree with her?  If you’re not sure, just ask yourself this…when you think of a person who is beautiful, is the image that immediately pops into your head ever Black, Native American, Hispanic or Asian?  I’m ashamed to admit that with the exception of Halle Berry my image of beautiful is white.  I want to take responsibility for the ways I propagate beautiful people being nearly exclusively white, but I have to admit (not as an excuse) this is deeply a product of the world and culture in which I was raised.  I can and will say shame on me, but I must also say shame on us.

I have many more thoughts swimming through my head, but may be nearing the tolerance of my readers.  More to come on Cameron Russell’s words during the upcoming week.


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