"Michael thinks you're already beautiful, and he worries about you when you have surgery. Have you ever thought, Gosh, this isn't worth it?"
You read a lot about 'can't live without products' in the beauty world, but honestly, there's nothing I couldn't do without. I might scare small children (and myself when going to the loo in the middle of the night) but my world wouldn't grind to a halt if I didn't have my make-up bag.
In our world, it's not just models who are expected to rip off their clothes and expose themselves to the gaze of everyone within eyeshot. It's all of us -- even those of us who are, well, not quite lottery winners.
Women are often worried about how they look and that's not superficial. We know that our appearance has nothing to do with how smart, creative, or hardworking we are, but it plays powerfully into what society decides we are worth.
Like Russell, I am one of those who benefited from the genetic lottery; first as a professional dancer and then as a Wilhelmina model. For both, I relied on the fortune of good genes. Like Russell, I felt ambivalent about "cashing out" on being "a pretty white girl," but it's what I did.
It's easy to laugh at beauty customs as being ridiculous or backwards when you're an outsider, but when you're on the inside few things can seem more important. And we're all on the inside to some extent.
I cannot tell you how many times I have passed by one of your magnificent fashion clubs -- the seizure-inducing bass thumping, the lighting dimmed just so (what would you call that? Disco lighting? Marvelous!), the stifling scent of the latest Diddy fragrance coiling around shoppers.
Fad beauty can be everything from Rubenesque voluptuousness to elongated necks. It can include tattooed eyelids or lotus feet. What is overlooked is that fad beauty is often created by masochists who establish control over others by making them believe that they are never enough.
Russell's point that beauty isn't everything is well taken, but maybe that's not the only idea that's limiting us. The act of segregating people into labels based on looks could be a far more dangerous issue.
I am very bad at painting my nails. As far as I can tell, painting the dominant hand with the non-dominant hand is as tricky as finding the perfect lipstick, jean or bobble hat, all tasks I wouldn't wish on an enemy. But I am particularly inept.
There are no money problems. There are people problems. Success is not how many zeroes your bank account has. It's about making the most of the life you have.
My mother showed me that in the midst of life's pain and turmoil, grief and loss, I can find great comfort in the beauty of a tree, deep joy at the sight of the moon and a sense of wonder by simply noticing the world around me.
In a world filled with false eyelashes, push-up bras, fake nails, fake tans and (at the risk of being hated by women everywhere) Spanx, are we really just creating an "imaginary" self?
What does "beauty" mean? It's hard to discern, especially in our society, exactly what makes a person beautiful.
I am not suggesting that a little lip gloss at age 12 is a dreadful thing. I am talking about extremes here.
The campaign from Dove is a step in the right direction. I'm so looking forward to the day where we don't have to waste so much of our creating power on not feeling good enough or pretty enough.