When Cameron Russell first walks out on stage, you can’t help but notice that she’s pretty much what you would consider #Goals. She has long, brown hair, legs that go on for days and everything about her is thin. She has a thin face, thin limbs and a skin-tight dress to accentuate every bit of it.
But in the first minute of her time on the TEDx Stage, this model does something that shocks everyone.
She changes her clothes. All of a sudden, this beautiful woman is no longer something of an idol, but instead just the beautiful girl next store.
Cameron’s talk is inspiring mostly because of her raw and genuine honesty. She takes questions that she’s been asked for 10 years, and instead of answering them the way that the industry expects, she answers them with the truth.
“People always ask, ‘Can I be a model when I grow up?’ And the first answer is, ‘I don’t know, they don’t put me in charge of that.’ But the second answer, and 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.'”
The passionate humanitarian that she is, Russell not only talks about opportunity, but also the double-standards and injustices that is present in her line of work.
“So when I was writing this talk, I found it very difficult to strike a balance. Because on the one hand I felt very uncomfortable to come out here and say, ‘Look, I’ve received all these benefits from a deck stacked in my favor.’ It also felt really uncomfortable to follow that up with, ‘And it doesn’t always make me happy.’ But mostly it was difficult to unpack a legacy of gender and racial oppression when I’m one of the biggest beneficiaries.”
She talks openly about the “free stuff she receives in her ‘real life,’ that we don’t like too talk about.” Things like getting away with running red lights or forgetting your purse at home have often gotten her a free pass. But the trouble with this is that it’s not free. Cameron says that the true cost of beauty is this:
“I got these free things because of how I look, not who I am. And there are people paying a cost for how they look, and not who they are.
I live in New York, and last year of the 140,000 teenagers that were stopped and frisked [by police] 86 percent of them were black and Latino, and most of them were young men. 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.”
Needless to say, brains trump beauty, and Cameron Russell proves that with this incredible talk. The true cost of beauty is not free, nor is it freedom from insecurities.
Share this with the women in your life, and lift each other up with truth and real freedom every day.