Supermodel Cameron Russell’s Ongoing Mission To Promote Beauty Over Brains


She is a successful supermodel who has been on the cover of the most popular fashion magazines, walked the runways of the biggest labels in the biz, who makes a considerable living off her day job, yet her message is complete anti-establishment, of sorts.

Cameron Russell may be familiar to those of you who have seen her 2012 TED Talk where she talked about the superficiality and damaging aspects of the modeling industry. In fact her talk became so popular, it is ranked at number 18 in a list of the top 20 most-viewed TED Talk videos of all time, with 9 million views and counting.

Her message was that modeling is not a job anyone should aspire to, and she often discourages little girls who tell her how much they want to be like her. Her mission is to show the world that valuing a woman only for her physical appearance is wrong, and to show aspiring and current models that what you have to say should be just as important (if not more) than what you look like.

Cameron often talks about how being a successful model is not necessarily something anyone can work toward, because it often has to do with hitting the “genetic lottery” as she calls it. She considers herself one of those winners, which may sound a little egotistical, but it is not. She is making a damn good point.


So why does she continue to work in the industry that she so often speaks out against? She believes that she is well positioned to have more people hear her message if she continues to work, and she is not wrong there. If (the world’s highest paid supermodel) Gisele Bundchen was speaking about world hunger and girls education, vs an unknown college girl somewhere in the Midwest, who is more likely to get more ears listening?

In a recent interview with Self magazine, the edition of which she also graces the cover, Cameron delves into her past a little and explains why she has such a strong sense of her mission to promote brains over beauty.

She grew up with an entrepreneurial mother who didn’t shave her legs, didn’t wear makeup, and never mentioned her own looks, let alone Cameron’s.

“I grew up thinking it didn’t matter at all,” says Cameron. Yet another strong case for teaching kids while they are young about healthy self-image ideals.

She didn’t grow up with a television, and was always encouraged to listen to audio books. Instead of pop culture, Cameron was more interested in careers such as becoming the President of the United States. Why? Because when she would ask her mother why there were so many homeless people, her mother would blame Ronald Reagan and therefore she thought becoming president would be the way to fix this issue.


Fast forward to 2015, and her activist heart has multiplied in ways that have been enhanced by her career. Her candor in admitting that she doesn’t diet, doesn’t exercise regularly and is more likely to get out of a speeding ticket than most because she is a “thin, white woman” are startling to hear. It’s not something we’ve ever heard out of the mouths of Gisele, Kate, Cindy etc. But perhaps it is about time a supermodel said out loud what we have been thinking for decades.

Her point in saying those statements is to prove how much attention models get for their looks and why is wrong. One of the downsides she mentioned in her TED Talk is that if she DID ever want to run for President now, no one would ever take her seriously because she ha appeared in lingerie and skimpy bikinis for various fashion campaigns. (Although who ever thought an ex-body building champion from Austria who became famous for his Hollywood “tough guy” roles would ever get elected Governor of California?)

Cameron Russell is an anomaly who may leave many scratching their heads as to why she has such a passion for change. But who better to create change within an industry that has really yet to do so in a big way, than someone within it? It has to start from within, so in a sense her message makes sense as it should spark the hearts of many in a similar position. It’s not like her shocking statements have stopped her from working, so why shouldn’t many more fashion industry elite and supermodels speak out about this?

Like she says in the ‘Nightline’ interview below from 2014, fashion isn’t evil, it is just in desperate need of a makeover, one that includes more emphasis on diversity and brains, and less about perpetuating a superficial idea that women should only be valued and ranked according to physical appearance.


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