Um, and for the last, uh, little while I've been a model.
Um, actually, for 10 years, Um, and I feel like there's an uncomfortable attention in the room right now because I should not have worn this dress so lucky I brought an outfit change.
Um, this is the first outfit change on the ted stage.
So you guys were pretty lucky to witness it.
I think, um, 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.
Um, I'd also note that I'm quite privileged to be able to transform what you think of me.
Um, in a very brief 10 seconds, not everybody gets to do that.
These heels are very uncomfortable.
So good thing I wasn't gonna wear them.
The worst part is putting this sweater over my head because that's when you'll laugh at me.
So don't do anything while it's over my head.
So why did I do that?
That was awkward.
Um, well, hopefully not this awkward.
Is that picture?
Uh, image is powerful.
Um, 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.
Um, I was totally uncomfortable on the photographer was telling me to arch my back and put my hand in that guy's hair.
Um, and, of course, barring surgery, um, or the fake tan that I got two days ago for work.
Um, 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.
Um, so today, for me, being fearless means being honest, and I am on this stage because I am a model.
I'm on this stage because I am a pretty white woman in my industry.
We call that a sexy girl.
Um, and I'm gonna answer the questions that people always ask me, but with an honest twist.
So the first question is, how do you become a model?
Um, I always just say I was scouted, but that means nothing.
Um, the rial way that I became a model is I want a genetic lottery and I'm the recipient of a legacy.
And maybe you're wondering what is a legacy will.
For the past few centuries, we have defined beauty not just as, um, health and youth and symmetry that were biologically programmed to admire, but also as tall sunder 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 is.
Some fashionistas were like, Wait, Naomi, Tyra, Joan Smalls, Liu Wen!
And first, I commend you on your model knowledge.
Um, but unfortunately, I have to inform you that in 2007 very inspired.
And while you PhD student counted all the models on the runway, every single one was hired.
And of the 677 models that were hired, only 27 where less than 4% were non white.
The next question people was ask me is, Can I be a model when I grow up?
And first answer is, I don't know.
They don't put me in charge of that, Um, 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, United States or the inventor of the next Internet or a ninja cardiothoracic surgeon poet.
Would you be awesome because you were the 1st 1?
Um, 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 with CEO of hmm or the next even myself.
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, you know, 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 could just be distilled right into it right now.
So if the photographer is right there and the light is right there like a nice h m I and the clients is Cameron, we want a walking shot.
Well, Then this light goes first.
Nice and long.
This arm goes back, this arm goes for the head.
Is that 3/4?
And you just go back and forth.
Just do that.
And then you look back at your imaginary friends 304 100 500 times.
It would look something like this.
Um, hopefully less awkward than that one in the middle.
That was I don't know what happened there.
If, unfortunately, after you've gone to school and you have a resume 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 resume reads underwear model 10 years, people give you a funny look.
The next question we always ask me is Do they retouched 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 a 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.
You know, we're getting personal, but ah, you know, 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 the shoot, my friend got to come with me.
Here's me at a slumber party a few days before I shot French folk.
Um, 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 group professionals by hairstylists and makeup artists and photographers and stylists and all of their assistance and pre production and post production.
And they build this.
That's not me.
Okay, so the next question people was asked me is Do you get free stuff?
I do have too many 18 shields we can never get to wear except earlier.
Um, 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 is 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, well, I get stopped.
But how many times I get stopped?
When will I get stopped?
When I was researching this talk, I found out that of the 13 year old roles in United States, 53% I 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, you know 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 shine your hair, you will be so happy and fabulous and one we're backstage.
We given 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 1/2 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.
Um, and if you ever are wondering, you know, if I have thinner thighs and shine your hair, will I be happier?
You just need to meet a group of models because they have the thinnest size and the Chinese here on the coolest clothes and the most physically insecure women, probably on the planet.
So 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 favour and it also felt really uncomfortable to follow that up with, and it doesn't always make me happy.
But mostly it was difficulty toe unpack, a legacy of gender and racial oppression when I'm one of the biggest beneficiaries.
Um, but I'm also happy and honored to be up here, and I think that it's great I got to come, you know, 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 take away to this talk, I hope is that we all feel more comfortable acknowledging the power of image in our perceived successes and are perceived failures.