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  • There is more to Cameron Russell than meets the eye. She may have worked with photographic greats including Steven Meisel and Craig McDean, walked the Victoria’s Secret runway and fronted campaigns for Prada and Ralph Lauren, but these were apparently the result – by her own modest admission – of simply having won “the genetic lottery”.

    The 26-year-old model’s outspokenness on perceived beauty ideals was the impetus behind her 2012 TED talk – usually an opportunity granted to award-winning scientists or high-powered CEOs – entitled, Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model. The talk challenged the smoke and mirrors of the fashion industry, demanding more honesty around its imagery, greater protection for young members (Russell began her modeling career aged 16) and crucially, society’s obsession with beauty and the free pass it grants to those who possess it. 

    Over 6,000,000 views later, Russell’s speech is now firmly placed in TED’s top 25 talks. But

    this was no singular party trick. With a degree in economics and political science from Colombia University, Russell is the founder of Space-Made, an initiative that gives grassroots creators a platform on which to speak and work as experts and problem solvers. Building on the unexpectedly enthusiastic reaction to her TED talk from the media, Russell also set up Interrupt, a webzine encouraging women to take action against inequality.

    Here, Amanda de Cadenet, founder and presenter of the interview series The Conversation – and whose daughter, Atlanta, is also a model – talks to her friend Russell about beauty and running her career on her own terms.

    “My mother is a TOTAL FEMINIST. She never talked about beauty at home, so I never thought about being PRETTY”

    Top by Dolce & Gabbana; skirt by Giambattista Valli; sandals by Alaïa

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