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A model uses her success to underscore some important points about image and privilege.

She exposes that there's a lot more that's fake besides the Photoshopping.

A model uses her success to underscore some important points about image and privilege.

It'd be difficult to find a single one of us who hasn't been influenced by advertising and images.

It's so subtle that a lot of us could probably even tell ourselves we haven't been influenced because it's like the air we breathe — it's around us constantly and we don't even think about it that much.

Case in point — I bet you can finish this slogan without even Googling it: "Choosy moms choose ______." If you don't know the brand, I'd bet you're an outlier.


We're constantly absorbing data and impressions from imagery and ads whether we know it or not, and companies pay big money in the race to be the first to push their impressions into our faces. They certainly aren't paying that kind of cash for something if it isn't effective.

Let model Cameron Russell break it down because she nails it.

She's had success as a model for about a decade, and she took to the TED stage to share some unique insight from her journey.

Here are three great aha moments she brings to the audience.

1. Image can be a powerful influence over our perceptions, and some people are more able to wield it than others.

She came out looking like this, knowing it was going to give a certain first impression.

All images from TED/YouTube.

Then she did the first ever on-stage wardrobe change at a TED talk.

And then she explained why she'd do something so awkward:

"Image is powerful. But also, image is superficial. I just totally transformed what you thought of me in six seconds."

You'd never guess that she hadn't even had a boyfriend before this photo was snapped, right?

2. In response to girls asking whether they can be models, she explains that while there's nothing wrong with being a model, it's not a career path.

Cameron likens modeling to winning some kind of genetic and societal lottery. Her message to young people: Set your sights on something else.

"Be my boss. Because I'm not in charge of anything and you could be the editor-in-chief of American Vogue. … Saying that you want to be a model when you grow up is akin to saying you want to win the Powerball when you grow up. It's out of your control, and it's awesome, and it's not a career path."

She demonstrates what she's learned from 10 years of modeling: what direction to look, how to pose, and the art of looking back at imaginary friends for the camera 500 times.


3. What we see in magazines is a complete fabrication and a construction from something else entirely.

She wants people to realize just how fake what they're looking at in advertising really is. Cameron illustrates it with images of what she really was like during certain times of her life, in contrast with how magazine images portrayed her at the same times.

This side-by-side comparison is a magazine shoot and a family photo taken in close succession. A little different, right?

How much does it floor you that these photos were taken within a few months of each other?

Her entire talk is really fascinating and invites us to look at the advertising we see in a much more educated light.

Cameron makes some incredible points about how she's benefitted from a stacked deck in our society all because she won the genetic lottery, and she juxtaposes that against the different life experiences of others — all based on how society perceives their looks.

As one of my favorite bands says about media and advertising, "There is a war going on for your mind." If you're thinking critically about it, you're winning.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Welcometoterranova and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Welcometoterranova-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.