Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model. | Cameron Russell

Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model. | Cameron Russell

Translator: Joseph Geni
Reviewer: Morton Bast Hi. My name is Cameron Russell, and for the last little while,
I’ve been a model. Actually, for 10 years. And I feel like there’s an uncomfortable tension
in the room right now because I should not have worn this dress. (Laughter) So luckily, I brought an outfit change. This is the first outfit change
on the TED stage, so you guys are pretty lucky
to witness it, I think. If some of the women were
really horrified when I came out, you don’t have to tell me now,
but I’ll find out later on Twitter. (Laughter) I’d also note that I’m quite privileged to be able to transform
what you think of me in a very brief 10 seconds. Not everybody gets to do that. These heels are very uncomfortable,
so good thing I wasn’t going to wear them. The worst part is putting
this sweater over my head, because that’s when
you’ll all laugh at me, so don’t do anything
while it’s over my head. All right. So, why did I do that? That was awkward. (Laughter) Well — (Laughter) Hopefully not as awkward as that picture. Image is powerful, but also, image is superficial. I just totally transformed
what you thought of me, in six seconds. And in this picture, I had actually never had
a boyfriend in real life. I was totally uncomfortable, and the photographer
was telling me to arch my back and put my hand in that guy’s hair. And of course, barring surgery, or the fake tan that I got
two days ago for work, there’s very little that we can do
to transform how we look, and how we look, though it is
superficial and immutable, has a huge impact on our lives. So today, for me, being
fearless means being honest. And I am on this stage
because I am a model. I am on this stage because
I am a pretty, white woman, and in my industry,
we call that a sexy girl. I’m going to answer the questions
that people always ask me, but with an honest twist. So the first question is,
how do you become a model? I always just say, “Oh, I was scouted,” but that means nothing. The real way that I became a model is I won a genetic lottery,
and I am the recipient of a legacy, and maybe you’re wondering
what is a legacy. Well, for the past few centuries we have defined beauty
not just as health and youth and symmetry that we’re biologically
programmed to admire, but also as tall, slender figures, and femininity and white skin. And this is a legacy
that was built for me, and it’s a legacy
that I’ve been cashing out on. And I know there are
people in the audience who are skeptical at this point, and maybe there are
some fashionistas who are like, “Wait. Naomi. Tyra. Joan Smalls. Liu Wen.” And first, I commend you on your model
knowledge. Very impressive. (Laughter) But unfortunately,
I have to inform you that in 2007, a very inspired NYU Ph.D. student counted all the models on the runway,
every single one that was hired, and of the 677 models that were hired, only 27, or less than four percent,
were non-white. The next question people always ask is, “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 cardiothoracic surgeon poet, which would be awesome,
because you’d be the first one.” (Laughter) If, after this amazing list,
they still are like, “No, no, Cameron, I want to be a model,” well, then I say, “Be my boss.” Because I’m not in charge of anything, and you could be the editor in chief
of American Vogue or the CEO of H&M,
or the next Steven Meisel. Saying that you want to be
a model when you grow up is akin to saying that you want to win
the Powerball when you grow up. It’s out of your control,
and it’s awesome, and it’s not a career path. I will demonstrate for you now
10 years of accumulated model knowledge, because unlike cardiothoracic surgeons, it can just be distilled right now. So, if the photographer is right there, the light is right there, like a nice HMI, and the client says,
“We want a walking shot,” this leg goes first, nice and long,
this arm goes back, this arm goes forward, the head is at three quarters,
and you just go back and forth, just do that, and then you look back
at your imaginary friends, 300, 400, 500 times. (Laughter) It will look something like this. (Laughter) Hopefully less awkward
than that one in the middle. That was — I don’t know
what happened there. Unfortunately,
after you’ve gone to school, and you have a résumé
and you’ve done a few jobs, you can’t say anything anymore, so if you say you want to be
the President of the United States, but your résumé reads,
“Underwear Model: 10 years,” people give you a funny look. The next question is,
“Do they retouch all the photos?” And yeah, they pretty much
retouch all the photos, but that is only a small component
of what’s happening. This picture is the very first
picture that I ever took, and it’s also the very first time
that I had worn a bikini, and I didn’t even have my period yet. I know we’re getting personal,
but I was a young girl. This is what I looked like with my grandma
just a few months earlier. Here’s me on the same day as this shoot. My friend got to come. Here’s me at a slumber party
a few days before I shot French Vogue. Here’s me on the soccer team
and in V Magazine. And here’s me today. And I hope what you’re seeing is that these pictures
are not pictures of me. They are constructions, and they are constructions
by a group of professionals, by hairstylists and makeup artists
and photographers and stylists and all of their assistants
and pre-production and post-production, and they build this. That’s not me. Okay, so the next question
people always ask me is, “Do you get free stuff?” (Laughter) I do have too many 8-inch heels
which I never get to wear, except for earlier, but the free stuff that I get
is the free stuff that I get in real life, and that’s what we don’t like
to talk about. I grew up in Cambridge, and one time I went into a store
and I forgot my money and they gave me the dress for free. When I was a teenager,
I was driving with my friend who was an awful driver
and she ran a red and of course, we got pulled over, and all it took was a “Sorry, officer,”
and we were on our way. And 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, 86% of them were black and Latino,
and most of them were young men. And 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 will I get stopped?
When will I get stopped?” When I was researching this talk, I found out that of the 13-year-old girls
in the United States, 53% don’t like their bodies, and that number goes to 78%
by the time that they’re 17. So, the last question people ask me is, “What is it like to be a model?” And I think the answer
that they’re looking for is, “If you are a little bit skinnier
and you have shinier hair, you will be so happy and fabulous.” And when we’re backstage, we give an answer
that maybe makes it seem like that. We say, “It’s really amazing to travel,
and it’s amazing to get to work with creative, inspired,
passionate people.” And those things are true,
but they’re only one half of the story, because the thing
that we never say on camera, that I have never said on camera, is, “I am insecure.” And I’m insecure because I have to think
about what I look like every day. And if you ever are wondering, “If I have thinner thighs
and shinier hair, will I be happier?” you just need to meet a group of models, because they have the thinnest thighs,
the shiniest hair and the coolest clothes, and they’re the most physically
insecure women probably on the planet. When I was writing this talk, I found it very difficult
to strike an honest 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,” and 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 am one
of the biggest beneficiaries. But I’m also happy
and honored to be up here and I think that it’s great
that I got to come before 10 or 20 or 30 years had passed
and I’d had more agency in my career, because maybe then I wouldn’t tell
the story of how I got my first job, or maybe I wouldn’t tell the story
of how I paid for college, which seems so important right now. If there’s a takeaway to this talk, I hope it’s that we all feel
more comfortable acknowledging the power of image
in our perceived successes and our perceived failures. Thank you. (Applause)


  1. Peter Iyenkutty says:

    She is not a model……..
    Indeed, she will be a role model for many
    Amazing wisdom

  2. bla bla says:

    but but you wouldn't even make this video if you were not attractive


    So brave

  4. vegaNora says:

    “I also know that I’m quite privileged…” that’s where I stopped listening. (Especially bc she said whatever about her outfit change & how we were “lucky” to witness that.)

    The implication of “trust me, I’m a model” in the video title is horribly arrogant, idc what she had to say, how she looked, what she wore, etc. don’t care about her name, her genes or her “sexy white chick” legacy. The ick factor is too thick here: 👎🏼 nope.

  5. Hand Me Another Book says:

    Not just a fashion model, but a role model. 🙂 🙂 nice talk!:)

  6. Zed137 says:


  7. mamta lele says:

    To fight for what is right, even when you are the biggest beneficiary is very difficult.. this is profound and I have faced something similar in India..

  8. momsbasementnerd4ever says:

    when you have sexual relations and you work hard it really matters

  9. かねやん says:


  10. Abdul Rahim says:

    Those who say beauty is inner are ugly AF!

  11. Kiran Cannon says:

    ‘I’m insecure because I have to think about what I look like every day’ that’s what literally every human thinks about every day

  12. Amber Pena says:

    She is right sometimes behind those amazing smiles there is a story.

  13. Lhajalo Bodjalo says:

    Looks/beauty is a very powerful phenomenon that is for sure but the Beauty is actually the product of our own thought and thoughts are not real so in reality, the looks aren't everything indeed.

  14. Nari Mi-Ok Iseul says:

    Yeah right….

  15. Harris pineapple says:

    “Believe me…I’m a model” why should we? Looks aren’t everything

  16. SYED JAFFER IMAM says:

    Looks aren't everything if you are wealthy.
    Money is not everything if you have got looks.

  17. Mick says:

    Why are you White shaming? You just turned your entire speech into a race issue….

  18. 03 AI says:


  19. Abba A says:

    Poor little insecure model who needs to look good every day. People with analytical, intellectual jobs have to be smart every day, yet they don’t seem to feel insecure about their intellect. Nor do they ask for sympathy for the pressure of having to think correctly & efficiently all the time. Moreover, her virtue signaling was utterly annoying. Ugh, this was appalling.

  20. lancsFrogger says:

    good looking people talking about looks are on thin ice. i got bored of her after 3 minutes

  21. MyAssefa says:

    I wish there was a heart button for the first time on YouTube the like button isn’t doing enough for me ♥️ 🤗🍀

  22. Suja Pramod says:

    Not to be that person but looks do matter in this world.

  23. Milagros Moral says:

    She wants to impress people by her speech, so, we would think…Oh, !! she is very intelligent too, which she is not.!!!

  24. mausi _ says:

    Yeah people, she knows that beauty is not important in the end of the day bc she has it but for your inner true healthy happiness it doesnt make a difference. And she is right. I wont myself to be happy with me and people to be happy with me bc I achieved something great or I have a job where I can help others and not because I look a certain way wich is just the 'fault' of my genetics and my parents but I didnt do anything for it. And I dont think being beautiful isnt something that is making you happy in the end.

  25. hrabmv says:

    thank you for this very honest talk!!!

  26. Jennifer Mckenzie says:

    Thank you for your vulnerability

  27. K4Y says:

    I’m not going to believe this women cus she’s a model wtf i would more likely believe an ugly person if they said this

  28. Nop da Call says:

    Why did everyone miss the point she made?

  29. FreeSudani says:

    As a black guy living in Asia i would say … looks matter and skin color matter very very very very much. hahaha

  30. Bob Merlin says:

    Having limbs isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Believe me, I have 4 of them.

  31. Bee Good says:

    My friends have two daughters. Both are highly intelligent and have wonderful personalities. One is beautiful and one is homely. I always knew the homely daughter would marry well because her husband would love the person inside her, rather than her sister whose husband is loving a pretty face.

  32. GG Why says:

    Every attractive person facing some difficulties in his/ her life (which everyone does) says looks don’t matter 😪

  33. GG Why says:

    80% of her speech: how easy things r for her for being a model

    20%: I still face difficulties, my life ain’t perfect!

    What’s her point?

  34. Andre Pascua says:

    I don't look at anyone anymore. Realized my ears are bigger then my eyes.

  35. TIME ATTACK says:

    Her face is meh

  36. Mg Myint says:

    It is so good.

  37. Bilgenaz Yılmaz says:

    please we want the turkish subtitle

  38. Bullsfan 824 says:

    When you acknowledge your Privilege and Benefits and still ask for sympathy 😂😂😂 i feel so bad for you!!

  39. 色々大好きおじさん says:


  40. anime pictures says:

    4:09 justin.Y is that you ? lol

  41. Madhuvani K. says:

    Y’all see a model. She’s a human being who wants to be happy and enjoy life’s beautiful moments like the rest of us. A lot of people in the comments are an example of giving into the stigma of beauty the society has. A lot of people in the comments succumb to what society expects, they don’t question it.

  42. Niranjan Kumar says:

    You are looking beautiful,

  43. Syq Mp says:

    Looks does not matter until you are attending a job interview

  44. lily says:

    What I noticed. She is a model, she thinks every white woman is like her and doesnt work. She assumes other people are privileged because she is. She doesnt know that everyone works but her. She is delusional about her own importance. She looks average, and got a job where she does not contribute to society. She objectifies herself and thinks that is what others do. She thinks beauty is what runs the world. People do not notice beauty in real world jobs and professional environments everyone is trained and works hard to serve the public. She stands there and looks pretty. She cannot speak for anyone but herself because she is a wall flower not a working professional.

  45. parampampam says:

    Appearance matters, folks. Take care of yourselves. Imagine, you go for a job interview and you are equally qualified with your rival applicant, chances are the better looking one will be selected.

  46. justin says:

    Look at her…
    How are looks not everything

  47. fearsome bannana says:

    Looks aren't everything says the model with a career around looking good

  48. Suman Nath says:

    From my opinion, looks DEFINITELY matters. When I was attending high school there was an Indian girl who was constantly getting bullied because of her looks and she had an unibra. And I still don't understand why she was getting mistreatment by her classmates and it made me upset inside and some of them were calling her GODZILLA because she was chubby. Now we all can agree on one thing and that is "LOOKS DEFINITELY MATTERS." Ugly looking people don't get the same treatment as the beautiful looking one. AND THAT'S AN UNIVERSAL FACT!!!!

  49. Reggie Cyde says:

    Beauty is truth. Beauty is self evident, beauty is obvious. Beauty is not taught, it is not a social construct, it doesn't need to be. Beauty does not need others to draw attention to it, it demands attention through it's own existence. Beauty does not require an explanation or justification. It should be cherished, not ashamed.

  50. boon hee lim says:

    if look isn't that important, stop caring how you look tomorrow………..

  51. abby says:

    pretty people are treated better tho and you’re pretty so

  52. Chelsea Stevens says:


  53. Duy Tran says:

    In details how to improve and have a healthy self-image
    Read the original
    "Psycho-Cybernetic" Maxwell Maltz
    Or See you at the Top Zig Ziglar
    They were recommended by Kevin Trudeau

    The topic that little or nothing written about until recent decades

  54. protochris says:

    She still doesn't get it. It's not because she's white; very few white girls get to be in her position, yet she indicts "all" white people as privileged. Even when she "dressed down", those were not frumpy clothes. Too much vanity!

  55. Amir Avdic says:

    U don't like it? DON'T DO IT AND SHUT UP!

  56. Aashish Bhongade says:

    Believe me Violence is not going to get you to heaven
    – an ISIS/IM terrorist

  57. justarainfall says:

    if teardrops could be bottled there’d be swimming pools filled by models

  58. Sabine Hammer says:

    Three minutes in and I’m out! White apologist…just means she may have won the genetic lottery,but was deprived of an actual important life skill… critical thinking. That’s not what is going on here however, just your garden variety propaganda.

  59. Lee count says:

    Oh believe after 12 years in the British Military…looks believe me go along, long way it will get you promoted, this is coming from an ugly Soldier.

  60. boston19801 says:

    I wasted my time listening to this

  61. axercst says:

    thank you

  62. helô oliveira says:

    looks are like a first door to a person. if you’re beautiful then that door is opened and people will go to the second door which is personality, who you really are, etc. if you’re not attractive then the first door remains closed and people won’t even bother trying to get to know you. Beautiful people say looks don’t matter simply because it’s something they don’t struggle with (so eventually personality will become their main focus) You can be unhappy for various reasons, but it’s unfair to say something doesn’t matter because /you/ don’t struggle with it. Ideally we all should focus on what’s inside but the vast majority of people will never bother that much if they’re not impressed after a first, superficial glance towards someone.

  63. eagle shadow says:

    If you got brain with beauty. You want to be appraised not by looks. If not then you would not question.

  64. Antonio Taimarangai says:

    Something about the title is funny

  65. Monday says:

    -looks are not that important
    + Yeah, maybe, but I'd like to discover it by myself

  66. Hello I’m a Pink drink says:

    Y’all she’s just acknowledging her privilege and asking for more diversity in the beauty industry and change in the beauty Standards. She’s not saying looks don’t matter,she’s just saying that they shouldn’t.And yeah,it is unfair,but you can’t say you never thought about modeling to afford college (at least I can’t 😕).Also she said that a pretty face and a smaller waist won’t take all of your insecurities away,proving that beauty isn’t everything in a mental healthy way,but it doesn’t mean you won’t be privileged so stop coming after her.

  67. coleaddison says:

    Maybe 80% of models are white because 80% of the clothing, makeup and magazines they're hired to advertise are purchased by whites. This idea that we need to suspend reality and free market forces to meet some kind of racial balance is crap. Yes, fashion is dominated by tall, skinny white women. But professional sports is dominated by tall, built black men. It's funny but… I'm a short, fat Jewish guy… and I'm not complaining or demanding equal representation. I dont want to see more people like me on the runway. I dont want to see more people like me on the gridiron. There's no inherent bias here… no systematic prejudice. It's just life. There are always going to be people who 'won the lottery' and have advantages I dont– I say, God bless them… take advantage of it! But I'm not going to sit here and play the victim or complain about how unfair life is because you get to do things or take jobs that I dont qualify for. I have two arms, two legs and a working brain. That's all that I need to carve our MY success in life and it's more than I deserve.

  68. Excommunicado says:

    You can also say: "Money doesn't matter, trust me, I'm a billionaire". She's out of touch with reality.

  69. Jonathan D says:

    A very honest talk – fair play

  70. 9000 says:

    If you're complaining about being ugly… too bad, go do something about it and quit crying… the world ain't gonna stop for you and give you a hug and a kiss to make you feel better. Go do some squats or lift some weights if you're so desperate for the attention or the upsides of being attractive.

  71. catch22 says:

    Seems most people have an issue with the title, which I admit is not apt and reductive. The talk, however, hits the nail on the head and is a very good one in which she highlights industry biases

  72. Katnis ;* says:

    I would prefer to hear it from average person who is not concidered atractive in our society. We all need hear story about person who achieved goals without look and being rich

  73. The Fish Tale says:

    I don’t want to sound negative but looks aren’t everything said by one who is already have the privileged to be pretty

  74. Varun Kumar says:

    That's why you can say that

  75. DannyDaDuffyDucking Daffer says:

    "10 seconds"

  76. DannyDaDuffyDucking Daffer says:

    Lol she looks like a teacher

  77. DannyDaDuffyDucking Daffer says:

    Seems like alot of ugly people cuz y'all salty af

  78. Alasar J. says:

    All lies

  79. I Lang says:

    I am a model and everything she is saying about insecurity is correct! Good thing that she is speaking truth to the injustices of the entertainment industry

  80. Nadiart says:

    I hated this Ted talk

  81. christi parshall says:

    Easy for a model to say worst TED EVER. thumbs down

  82. Roberto Insingo says:

    I am dead inside

  83. JustAordinaryguy 1 says:

    Social Media Ruined People's perspective on How They Look

  84. Harlacan says:

    "Don't hate me cause I'm beautiful"

  85. aves zia says:

    next video:
    bill gates : money isn't everything. believe me I'm the richest man for almost 3 decades.

  86. dracobluelol says:

    Biggest fucking liar and an ugly model

  87. Peace Full says:

    External Beauty is over rated

  88. Putri ravinia says:

    Beauty with brain ♥️

  89. ポテトプリン says:

    Your beauty makes us watch this video.    So far, how many people have "watched" her speech in the worold?                                                                                                                                               Living without shame: How we can empower ourselves | Whitney Thore | TEDxGreensboro >just copy this URL ,please. Do you want to watch this video like her contents?  But  you'll find  "something" definitely different.

  90. Ayşen Dağdelen says:

    iyki çirkinim vmsmfke

  91. Charley Varrick says:

    No its not rec for me u bitches. I aint ugly.

  92. Charley Varrick says:

    Bye bye now

  93. Pas très nette cette nenette ! says:

    Une belle personne… autant extérieurement qu’ intérieurement 💋😍

  94. Ulya Snow says:

    Don't have to be
    a big bucks Hollywood star
    Don't have to drive
    a super car to get far
    Don't have to live
    a life of power and wealth
    Don't have to be
    beautiful but it helps (c)

  95. Chanchal Sharma says:

    Wow…. that's a wonderful speech… Thank you☺

  96. 1younguy says:

    She's smart.

  97. Mara xD says:

    society from childhood instill in us that it is beauty and ugliness, but they are not true because beauty is subjective. and my question would be; If all your life you lived of that beauty, when you are old and wrinkled what will you do? Your youth is gone over the years and now what?

  98. A says:

    I do get what she's saying but it does really feel like a flex lmao

  99. Chief Louie says:

    If she feels bad being pretty, that makes want to strangle myself.

  100. Nazz M says:

    This is really really stupid

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