Hey you, the person Googling "human + potato + evolution" and "iPhone + front-facing + camera + terrifying + why," take a knee. It's time for a tincture of soul-nourishment! Model Cameron Russell, of Victoria's Secret and "legs for days" fame, has an amazing TED talk in which she answers all our most burning questions about model-dom, like, "Are models lowered into skinny jeans from a helicopter?"
She also answers actual questions like, "How do you become a model?" Easy! Russell says: simply be born with a genetic makeup that fits the narrow societal ideal of white skin, feminine features, symmetrical body parts, long, thin limbs, a tiny waist and shiny voluminous hair. Natch! What's so interesting about her presentation is that she manages to acknowledge that the only reason she has a platform to reach millions of people is that she has been given "free stuff" her whole life on the basis of her looks, while using her platform to debunk that very system. To illustrate her point that image—particularly an image as engineered as a model's—is meaningless, Russell shows candid photos of herself taken the same day as magazine shoots. In one, she is a mystifying ideal, and in the other, she is an ordinary girl playing soccer, or having a sleepover, or hanging out with her grandma. Modeling is not a career, she says, and models are the most insecure people on the planet.
The question she is raising is: How many people have we ignored or systematically repressed on the basis of their appearance? Most of us probably don't realize how good we have it, walking on our legs, tossing our hair. This same point was made recently by Hook, aka Dustin Hoffman, in an interview about cross-dressing for Tootsie where he talks about the cryface realization that he looked like the kind of woman he would never speak to. (We're off to cut onions!) Have you ever dismissed someone on the basis of their looks, or allowed your own self-consciousness to get in the way of your aspirations? Having watched Russell's talk, how can we make sure that we don't get pulled into the swirling sharknado of beauty ideals? Most importantly, how can we move our societal preoccupation with looks to the side and get to focusing on the really big stuff: Sharks, sweat buckets and nerd sigils?!
TL;DR: As long as someone has a good globe on their shoulders, modeling is wasted on them, whether their looks conform with the beauty ideal or not.
What do you think about Cameron Russell's talk?