Playlist TEDTalks

6 TED Talks on beauty

Posted by: Kate Torgovnick May

In today’s bold TED Talk, model Cameron Russell — who has walked runways for Victoria’s Secret and Chanel — mulls over what it means to be beautiful. To her, being beautiful is a matter of chance; she happened to be one of the people in the world born with a set of physical traits — height, femininity, white skin, shiny hair — that our cultural views as attractive. And while her beauty has been a cornerstone of her career, she has very mixed feelings about the doors it’s opened for her.

“I’ve gotten these free things because of how I look, not who I am,” says Russell. “And there are people paying a cost for how they look, not who they are.”

As Russell explains, physical beauty — or at least the brand of it that we see in fashion magazines — is very carefully constructed. To hear about how Photoshopping is just the beginning of how models are built into the images we see, watch her talk. And below, check out five more talks about physical beauty.

Richard Seymour: How beauty feels
How do we know when a face — or object, for that matter — is beautiful? In this talk from TEDSalon London Spring 2011, designer Richard Seymour says that we simply feel it. Here, he takes a look on the power that feeling has over us.

Aimee Mullins: It’s not fair having 12 pairs of legs
Having prosthetic legs isn’t a disability. For athlete and model Aimee Mullins, they are a source of great superpowers. In this talk from TED2009, Mullins shares how having prosthetics has granted her speed, height and, yes, beauty.

Dennis Dutton: A Darwinian theory of beauty
Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder, says Dennis Dutton, nor does it simply come down to our specific cultural coding. In this talk from TED2010, Dutton shares that our experience of beauty has evolutionary origins, and takes it back to Darwin.

Virginia Postrel on glamour
What is glamour? Cultural critic Virgina Postrel gives a broader definition than sequins and movie stars. In this talk, she shares that the word goes back to the idea of casting spells, and is anything with a carefully polished image created to dazzle.

Rick Guidotti: From stigma to supermodel
Fashion photographer Rick Guidotti was used to shooting models. However, he was also sick of being told who counts as beautiful. In this talk from TEDxPhoenix, Guidotti reveals how he broke out — by recognizing the incredible beauty of teens with albinism and creating a stunning series of images of them.

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