TED Talk English Learning Lesson
Cameron Russell: 
Looks aren't everything. Believe me, I'm a model

In this English learning lesson, Cameron Russell, an American fashion model, talks about her image and why her looks aren't what you might imagine.

Cameron has been modeling for more than 10 years and has been featured in the international editions of Vogue magazine and in ads for famous brands like Benetton, Luis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent. She has also been a runway model for Victoria Secret, Chanel, Versace and numerous other famous designers.

In this TED Talk, Cameron talks about how powerful image can be but also why image isn't everything. She also answers some of the popular questions that people ask her.

Time to practice your English comprehension. Don't worry, the video is less than 10 minutes long and if you have trouble understanding you will have some learning aids: 

Instructions for this English learning lesson:

1. Watch the video below.
2. Take the quiz to test your comprehension.
3. Read the transcript for further practice.
4. Watch the video again with the translation in your language if you need additional help understanding the video. The video is currently translated in 35 languages!
5. Leave comments on what you think about the video.
6. “Rinse and repeat” (= do the steps over again) if you want additional practice.



English learning lesson step #2: Quiz 

Let's see what you were able to understand. This is a really short quiz to check your understanding of the video.

Click here to take the short quiz

 

English learning lesson step #3: Review the transcript/translation 

Cameron Russell

Hi. My name is Cameron Russell, and for the last little while I've been a model. Actually, for 10 years. And I feel like there's an uncomfortable tension in the room right now because I should not have worn this dress. (Laughter)

So luckily I brought an outfit change. This is the first outfit change on the TED stage, so you guys are pretty lucky to witness it, I think.

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. (Laughter)

I'd also note that I'm quite privileged to be able to transform what you think of me in a very brief 10 seconds. Not everybody gets to do that. These heels are very uncomfortable, so good thing I wasn't going to wear them.

The worst part is putting this sweater over my head, because that's when you'll all laugh at me, so don't do anything while it's over my head.

All right.

So why did I do that? That was awkward.

Well, hopefully not as awkward as that picture. Image is powerful, 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. I was totally uncomfortable, and the photographer was telling me to arch my back and put my hand in that guy's hair.

And of course, barring surgery, or the fake tan that I got two days ago for work, 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.

Click here for the full transcript and instructions for how to see the translation. 

 

Your Turn to Practice Writing

Now’s your turn to practice your writing skills!

Remember that repetition and practice are keys to improving your English. Take a moment to share what you thought of the video. It's super easy. Just fill in the form below.

Share Your Thoughts About Cameron Russell's TED Talk!

Now it’s your turn to practice your writing skills. Here are some sample questions - but write about whatever you'd like.
- What did you think of the video?
- Do you agree that looks are superficial but powerful?
- Do you think the photos of models in magazines are harmful to regular women and girls?
- If models are so beautiful, why are they so insecure about their physical looks?
- Do you benefit from your looks in your own society?
- Do your looks cause you difficulties?

Have other comments? Please share them. We'd love to know what you think!

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What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Do your looks cause you difficulties? 
Not only my look doesnt cause difficulties but it causes benefits. For instance, when i go to get a job I feel my appearance play a important role in my …

There are so many things more important than surface beauty 
I am living in Iran. As you know in my country women should have veil. So inasmuch as showing off is in females nature they make up a lot and do beauty …

Sadly, Looks ARE Something 
I look average, not tall, not short, not ugly, not really beautiful. In society, this may be best option. I know nobody try to be my friend or boyfriend …

Your own looks like ? 
I think this video is so benefit for me. It's quite interesting. I agree that looks were superficial but powerful. I didn't think that the photo of models …

Beauty and Thinking Not rated yet
I think that the video was very interesting and inspiring. I agree with the statement that looks are superficial but powerful because if you beautiful …

Cameron Russell's talk Not rated yet
For a beginning and for a ordinary model that talk was very good except a bit pressure while Cameron talks. In general Cameron Russell talked pretty good …

It is not all about the beauty Not rated yet
Nowadays, society's standards of beauty create unrealistic expectations about how people should look. This makes exceptional good looks seem normal, and …

Standards of beauty  Not rated yet
In this day's society standards of beauty are very clear. We can see unequal treatment for different population groups only because their appearance like …

My Impression of Cameron's Talk Not rated yet
I think that the video was interesting and inspiring because you come to understand that the world is becoming a place where not everyone is accepted by …

Never Ending Standards Not rated yet
I think that the video can be used as an inspirational tool, to help girls who feel insecure about themselves know what their ambitions go to. Yes I …

Great Talk! Not rated yet
Models have a lot of power in their hands, their influence on (mostly young) society is large. It’s great to see some models express that power not only …

Thoughts about Cameron Russell's TED Talk Not rated yet
I think that the video was very inspiring and motivating. I completely agree that looks are superficial, but they can give you a lot in life, from gifts …

Comment on TED Talk lecture Not rated yet
I enjoyed the lecture because it showed how the modelling world really works behind the scenes, and that it is not all about glamour and fame. This is …

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