Victoria's Secret model Cameron Russell has a message: Society overvalues looks and should pay more attention to serious issues.
The stunning 25-year-old delivered a frank talk in October that was posted online last month in which she talks about how modeling "isn't a career path." Since then the video has racked up more than 1.3 million hits - four times the number of viewers who clicked on a talk by Colin Powell.
"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," she said in remarks at a TED conference, an annual event that showcases thought-provoking speakers.
The model, who studied economics and political science at Columbia University, isn't surprised at the attention her talk has generated given society's obsession with "tall, slender figures, and femininity and white skin," she wrote in a piece yesterday for CNN. She notes that only an estimated 4 percent of models are non-white.
"The talk itself is nothing groundbreaking. It's a couple of stories and observations about working as a model for the last decade," she said. "Even if I did give a good talk, is what I have to say more important and interesting than what Colin Powell said?
"I won a genetic lottery," she added.
Russell, who has modeled for Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, said she joined the TED conference hoping to bring attention to the stories of people who represent more pressing matters than good looks.
"I hoped telling a simple story - where my only qualification was life experience (not a degree, award, successful business or book) - could encourage those of us who make media to elevate other personal narratives: the stories of someone like Trayvon Martin, the undocumented worker, the candidate without money for press," she wrote.