The 25-year-old, who’s worked as a model for ten years, was more than happy to share her expertise with the audience–and debunk a few myths in the process. For one, Russell says that modeling isn’t really a “career path,” it’s more “akin to winning the Power Ball.”
To that end, Russell challenges every young girl who dreams of becoming a model to instead strive for bigger and better things (like being the President of the United States) or, failing that, to “be [her] boss” because, she’s “not in charge of anything.”
“You could be the Editor in Chief of American Vogue, or the CEO of H&M or the next Steven Meisel.”
Russell also takes on the the pervasive use of photoshop in the modeling industry. “Yeah they pretty much retouch all the photos,” she says. “But that is only a small component of what’s happening.”
To prove her point, Russell showed a photo from her first fashion shoot saying, “this was the very first time I wore a bikini and I didn’t even have my period yet.” Juxtaposed with a photo taken a few months earlier of Russell with her grandmother, the two photos show that while photoshop may contribute to the unrealistic images we see in magazines, so too does the casting of nearly pre-pubescent models.
Russell also takes on the lack of racial diversity in the industry saying one of the main reasons she’s been successful is because she’s a “pretty white woman,” and that she is “one of the biggest recipients” of a legacy of gender and race oppression.
Watch the full talk below.