Anti-Model Cameron Russell Sort of Enjoys Annoying People

Photo: Elle UK

TED-talking anti-model Cameron Russell is on the February cover of Elle U.K. She looks beautiful, despite not being at all stylish (as evidenced by a description of her coolest pants in high school: "brown boy’s corduroys with Sesame Street elastics hand-sewn into them." Russell, who is the daughter of a Zipcar founder, grew up without TV or fashion magazines, and has always dreamed of being president (not too late!). In the accompanying interview, she discusses her reputation for being one of the most outspoken models in the industry:

"I came to a fitting and was like, 'I don't wear fur, cancel this show!' Or, 'I don't want to go topless.' A lot of [the clothing] is quite sheer, so I'd ask for a retouch. Remember, I wanted to be president, so I was quite outspoken and aggressive. There were a couple of people who didn't work with me because of that. They were like: 'You're annoying.'"

With that beloved mouthiness, Russell has made waves in the industry for discouraging girls from making modeling their main career goal. Where did that instinct come from? Well, this early experience in her first New York City model apartment might have something to do with it:

"When I first lived in a model apartment … It was two bunk beds to a room and the bathroom was constantly in use. I was bringing in Lucky Charms cereal and one day an agent put a stop to that. She said, 'You’re making all the girls fat.' They took it off our grocery order. That was the most dramatic thing that happened."

But, Russell, who used modeling to pay for her degree from Columbia University, actually would tell women to pursue modeling if it helped them to reach for something larger:  "If someone has the opportunity to become a model, I would say do it," she said. "It's awesome ... [But] you have to have something afterwards. It's also a job in which you have no creative control. Your dream in life is to be this object of desire? It's like dreaming to be a diamond necklace."