Having the right looks may not be everything, but they're certainly helpful if you want to make bank in the world of fashion modeling. Just ask Cameron Russell, one of the lucky winners of the genetic lotto which includes fabulous door prizes like being extremely pretty, extremely tall and extremely thin. (image)
When Russell took on the topic in her 2012 TEDxMidAtlantic video talk, Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model went viral. In part because she answered some of the nosier questions us less-blessed have:
A: Yes. Q: Are the pix are all photoshopped?
A: No. Q: Do the ladies look like that IRL?
A: Yes. Q: Do they get away with stuff IRL just for looking the way they do (like getting out of speeding tix)?
But as she hopped off the TED stage, Russell began hatching up a new plan: to start a magazine where marginal voices would have a platform for saying whatever needed to be said. Increasingly bored by the frenzied 7.6-million-views-and-counting buzz swirling around her talk, Russell Tumblr'ed: “Can we reroute this press deluge to create opportunities for more of our voices to get heard in the average news cycle? Let’s try and use it as a platform to say what we want. Let’s put forward a diversity of radical ideas; let’s showcase the programs and organizations we make strong.” (image)
Her readers answered, flooding her with sassy stories from the fringe that deviated deliciously from the usual tales told by mainstream media. “I was thinking about access to media and it clicked," says Russell. "What if we build a space for media-makers who don’t have it?" The first issue of Interrupt Magazine showcased women working to improve media representation with Put Me On TV! - a fun theme. Lips, Tits, Zits, Thighs, Eyes and Muffin Tops was laid out to look like InTouch or People; however, unlike a regular tabloid, it contained actual content beyond just point-and-turn-page eye candy. There were journal entries by young girls who love their bodies, musings about plus-sized models and an essay and photo documentary by a writer transitioning from female to male.
Other issues of the mag have tackled race and whatever the editor du jour thinks is important. “Like elected officials have term limits, we decided to have them for our editors too, to keep the ideas and the voice of Interrupt fresh and bring new audiences each time around," notes Russell. “I have resources—filmmakers, editors and graphic designers. Why not pass those off to a different editor-in-chief every time?” (image)
For the Fall 2014 issue of Interrupt, EIC Lynn Cyrin was once homeless, during which time she taught herself how to code. As an advocate for the rights of transwomen and homeless women, Cyrin has brought something interesting (not in a good way) to light: that homeless shelters generally lack wifi, which acts to prevent the homeless from accessing the online world of the Internet. As with previous Interrupt EICs, Russell noticed a common theme. “Because they are experts of their communities, they are identifying places where resources are not going...We hope our investment in their editorship could be a sustainable one that will matter beyond the scope of the issue,” she continues. “We want it to keep on having an impact—on their careers and on their communities.”
As a privileged fashion world insider, Russell didn't have to do something. As a human being, though, she did. And did. This brand of can-do bootstrapping and wielding the power of style to better the world for the future is a lovely hallmark of the Folkspun fashion tribe,* the keeper of memory and crafter of newer, better ones. To read more of my posts about this philanthropic tribe, CLICK HERE.
*NOTE: To learn more about the other three fashion tribes, START HERE.
Podcast music: Kevin MacLeod, Incompetech.com
- Lesley Scott