Have you ever woken up in the morning, looked at your crazy bedhead, and wished you were a prettier, sexier version of yourself? The idea that external beauty will make a person happy is nearly universally accepted as truth, but in her TED Talk from TEDxMidAtlantic in 2012, activist and Victoria’s Secret model Cameron Russell takes the other side of the argument. She frankly admits that she won “the genetic lottery,” benefitting from a culture biased to value beautiful, young, slender, white women, and also draws attention to the ways physical appearance negatively impacts the lives of non-white people every day. It’s one of the most popular TED Talks of all time for Russell’s startling honesty and her ability to discuss big-picture issues with grace and humor. Check out her online magazine, Interrupt Mag, dedicated to featuring underrepresented voices in society, and her recent piece in Vogue magazine on female “climate change warriors” who are making a difference every day.
The Beauty Bias: The Injustice of Appearance in Life and Law, Deborah L. Rhode (Oxford University Press, 2010)
This book discusses many of the issues raised by Russell in her talk, namely the way society is biased to benefit the beautiful. Rhode’s ideas are interesting to consider and occasionally argue with, and her book is an essential read for anyone seriously interested in the ways appearance effects everyday life.