Image Is Powerful, But It's Not Everything: A Model's Honest Opinion

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"I am on this stage because I'm a pretty, white woman." That's just one of the honest, revealing, refreshing lines from model Cameron Russell's TED Talk, and it's an absolute must-watch for anyone with even a passing interest in fashion, women's issues, or the ongoing discussion about body image in this industry.

Though she touches on the ways a real, human model is manipulated, constructed, and transformed from a real person into an aspirational, often unattainable image, Russell isn't just talking about modeling. She's talking about the way young girls grow up all too fast, not in the least due to the constantly reinforced idea that thinner thighs and shiny hair are the key to happiness. She's talking about the ways that physical appearance affects all of us, day in and day out.

For some of us (like Russell herself), it's a blessing. It means free clothes, a fawning audience. For others, like the 120,000 young black and Latino men who were frisked in NYC this year, it means constant prejudice and a unique set of obstacles. This is an incredibly rare opportunity to get a real, un-retouched look into the reality of fashion, modeling, and the modern ideals of beauty — and Cameron's unguarded words are both scary and enlightening — but above all, inspiring, in terms of moving this conversation forward. (TED Blog)

Photo: Courtesy of J. Crew.