Highly articulate Victoria's Secret model Cameron Russell gave a TED talk last October about the illusions of modeling and the fashion industry. She immediately illustrates the power of image by appearing in a short, sexy black dress and high heels and then change onstage into a longer wrap skirt and flats...and she says:
"I'm on this stage because I'm a model and I'm a pretty white woman, and in my industry we call that a sexy girl...and I'm going to answer the questions people ask me, but with an honest twist."
As she explains it, she "won a genetic lottery, and I'm the recipient of a legacy." She showed several photos of her modeling shots, contrasted with her as a normal person, to emphasize that fashion shoots are constructions.
She notes how difficult it is "to unpack gender and racial oppression when I’m one of the biggest beneficiaries, but she does. She discusses the privileges she gets from beauty...and how others have to pay just because of the way they look...and she talks about how few models are people of color. "I've received all these benefits from a deck stacked in my favor."
Young girls often ask her what it's like to be a model, and she gives an honest answer. Models have the "thinnest thighs, shiniest hair, and coolest clothes...but they're the most insecure people on the planet."
I've just finished a memoir by a woman who has spent half her life as an anorexic and bulimic. Young girls and women cannot escape the constant barrage of constructed images by the fashion and entertainment industries. As Russell compels us, we need to "acknowledge the power of image in our perceived successes and our perceived failures."
I encourage you to watch this TED talk. Russell is extremely bright as well as the winner of a genetic lottery and legacy.