A mere two days after millions of viewers saw Cameron Russell strut the runway at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in a pair of bedazzled wings, the model was on a very different stage, delivering a talk on image, privilege, and perception for TEDxMidAtlantic.
She begins with an experiment of sorts — coming out in a tight black dress and high heels and, after the audience had time to judge her accordingly, changing into a long skirt, flats, and a sweater. “Image is powerful, but also image is superficial,” she says. So much so that even we, jaded fashion industry followers that we are, found the side-to-side images of Russell’s early shoots and pre-pubescent family photos taken in the same year pretty jarring.
“I am on this stage because I am a model,” Russell concedes. “I am on this stage because I am a pretty, white woman. And in my industry we call that a ‘sexy girl’.” Of course, she’s not just a “sexy girl,” a fact which she proves through her eloquence and insightfulness, but we will allow that she “won a genetic lottery.”
Watch the inspiring talk in it’s entirety below: