supermodel cameron russell, TED talk cameron russell, image is powerful

Does Your Daughter Want to Be a Model?

Image is Powerful: Supermodel Cameron Russell

Supermodel Cameron Russell gave this TED talk that my husband sent to me. She notes that image is powerful but also image is superficial. There is very little we can do to transform how we look but it has a huge impact on our lives. Her talk discourages girls from going into the field of modeling while also dispelling myths about models, beauty, and the power of image.

supermodel cameron russell, TED talk cameron russell, image is powerfulimage from Fashion Model Directory

How do you become a model?

You win the genetic lottery and she’s the recipient of a legacy that defines beauty as tall, slender, and white. 677 models hire, less than 4% were non-white.

Can I be a model when I grow up?

Why? Be her boss instead. Models are not in charge of anything. Being a model is not a career path.

Do they retouch all the photos?

Yes. Photos are all constructs by a group of professionals.

Do you get free stuff?

The free stuff she gets in real life is the smile that gets her off a speeding ticket or a free dress when she left her wallet.

What is it like to be a model?

It makes you insecure about what you look like. Modeling has a legacy of gender and racial oppression that she is the biggest beneficiary of.


Here’s her TED talk:

Have your girls ever expressed interest in becoming a model or a profession that you would rather they didn’t aspire to enter? How do you handle that? Please share.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Alexandra

    I haven’t had this sort of talks with my niece yet just once she said “I would like to have a real job, not like you, auntie”. Which left me in tears (I am a translator and I work from home) but also made me think of how my little ones perceive job. So we had a little talk and I hope now she really knows that even though I need just my computer to work it is still not worse than any other job in the world!
    Alexandra recently posted…Working out, having funMy Profile

    • Hi Alexandra,
      Oh … kids have no idea what work really means and truly, what makes a great job. My kids make fun of my job all the time. But, Ill bet when your niece grows up and has kids, she will realize what an awesome job you have and will want something similar. Work From Home! Make Your Own Hours! Work/Life Balance! I feel our priorities towards career really shifts for many moms once we have kids and all of a sudden your job is quite enviable!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Does Your Daughter Want to Be a Model?My Profile

  2. I just watched this video last week. So, so powerful. Fortunately, my daughters have not expressed an interest in modeling but my oldest is certainly beginning to worry about her looks- at age 10!
    Stacey recently posted…WoodlochMy Profile

    • Hi Stacey,
      Yeah, it’s amazing how early girls start to worry about their body image and how they look. Some think that the internet/TV/Cable has made this worse at an early age. I blame Disney Channel … those shows are so inane with twenty-somethings playing teens.

      The research I read was that the only way to get girls to have a healthy body image is to have them play sports (anything, dance included) so they they learn how powerful and strong their bodies are.

      I guess genetically, girls for millenia have had to rely on signaling healthy-able-to-procreate in order to attract a male who would provide protection. I think it’s good we, as moms, fight against this since times have changed from cave man days.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Does Your Daughter Want to Be a Model?My Profile

      • I couldn’t agree more! I have just recently refused to let my girls watch the Disney Channel. I honestly see a noticeable difference in their behavior after they have watched it. I have done this a few times over the years and when they aren’t watching Disney, I have to go back to old tv shows like the Cosby Show, The Brady Bunch and Full House to find appropriate shows. I just don’t understand why we go straight from the great pre-school programming that’s out there to the Disney Channel with nothing in between…
        Stacey recently posted…WoodlochMy Profile

        • Hi Stacey,
          I wish I could ban more of the Disney Channel. I swear that Cartoon Network is less obnoxious (and even that is not great either). You are right about the lack of great kids’ programming. We went from PBS and Noggin to a desert!

          My kids are finding some better stuff that is really adult programming like Who Wants to Become a Millionaire … which is teaching them about entrepreneurship. They found this one their own.

          I really like Joe Zee’s It’s All On the Line … fashion designers who struggle get Elle’s Creative Director Joe Zee’s assistance. It’s a great show for kids to watch and see why some designers succeed (able to take constructive criticism) and others are determined to fail.

          Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Food held their interest at some point before too.

          Want to co-author a post with me on TV shows for Kids that Don’t Suck? (A working title, heh heh)?? I could use the suggestions to reprogram at home too!!!
          Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Great New Chapter Books For Ages 9 and UpMy Profile

  3. waswashere93

    I understand the concerns, but I also understand that every job can have it’s down falls. Very few models make it into a career. The key is to Know and Love who you are, if you don’t you shouldn’t be involved. You need to stick to your morals and not make any compromises to your integrity. By doing so you not only let yourself down but you lose the respect of those around you. There is a big difference in wanting to be a model vs wanting to model! If you want to be a model, stay away, it will only disappoint you!
    If you want to model you must: love and respect the person you are, stick to your morals & be yourself. By doing this you can have fun, make some money, be proud of your accomplishments and do what you love!

    • Hi Was Was Here 93,
      You bring up great points but I think the issue with being a model is that you are professionally objectified with your potential employers criticizing your physical features — things for the most part you can not change — in front of you and constantly. And, as fashion changes from season to season, your “look” falls in and out of fashion at a whim. It’s the fashion industry that destroy’s models’ self-confidence but sadly it’s also the nature of the job. The only way out, it seems, is to find another facet of fashion that is skill based not look based.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Does Your Daughter Want to Be a Model?My Profile

  4. Great interview. I went through this experience with my daughter who wanted to be a model. She did some work as a “fitter”s” model for the garment factory, but she was told that she would never succeed in print because her look was too “ethnic” Whar was needed was a classic white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant look! Times are slowly changing. At that time it was devastating for her.

    • Hi Barbara,
      Yeah, it seems there is only room for 1 “Asian” Supermodel, 1 “African-American” Supermodel and 1 “Latino-American” Supermodel. It’s weird but there are lots of top Asian fashion designers out there but have you noticed that ONLY Vera Wang is consistent in using an Asian model for her ad campaigns?!

      I guess the fashion designers haven’t realized (or maybe it’s also true) that the demographics of N. America have changed and “ethnic” is growing the most rapidly and is gaining also in purchasing power. They seem to think only the NYC WASP is their target customer (and a young version of that!).

      How is your daughter now? Does she have any interest in modeling now? I say it was a blessing in disguise!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Does Your Daughter Want to Be a Model?My Profile

  5. Everything she says confirms what I have been told by women I know who were professional models. Thanks for sharing this.
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  6. Wow! Thank you for posting. I just watched it and now my 9 year old is watching it as well. Love it.
    Cool Mom for Stanley and Katrina von Cat the Master of Wisdom and Knowledge
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  7. Ann

    Terrible! I would love to see a trend towards more obtainable beauty.
    Ann recently posted…TiptoeMy Profile

  8. My teenage daughter wants to be a model be a model she has a couple of photos and i find it kind of interesting thanks for your post am going to share this with her
    Viren recently posted…Email Marketing Power At WorkMy Profile

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