“Looks Aren’t Everything. Believe Me, I’m a Model” by Cameron Russell example

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“Looks Aren’t Everything. Believe Me, I’m a Model” by Cameron Russell

According to Lloyd F. Bitzer, in order to better understand a rhetorical context we need to consider a rhetorical discourse in terms of it being invoked into existence by the situation: “the situation which the rhetor perceives amounts to an invitation to create and present discourse” (Bitzer 9). At the same time Bitzer notes that “the exigence and the complex of persons, objects, events and relations which generate rhetorical discourse are located in reality, are objective and publicly observable historic facts in the world we experience, are therefore available for scrutiny by an observer or critic who attends to them” (Bitzer 11).

Regarding the rhetorical devices, George H. Williams points out three rhetorical appeals that people use in their speech:

• ethos: The rhetor is perceived by the audience as credible (or not).

• pathos: The rhetor attempts to persuade the audience by making them feel certain emotions.

• logos: The rhetor attempts to persuade the audience by the use of arguments that they will perceive as logical (Williams).For the analysis of the rhetorical structure and context of the speech we’re going to choose one of the public speeches made by Cameron Russell.

Rhetorical Context

Cameron Russell is an American fashion model who has appeared in multiple international editions of Vogue as well as in ads for brands like Ralph Lauren and Benetton. Russell runs the blog ArtRoots.info. She is the director of The Big Bad Lab and a co-founder of the new web-based magazine Interrupt. In October 2012 on one of the TED Conferences, Russell gave a public speech under the title “Looks aren't everything. Believe me, I'm a model.”Rhetorical Argument. Cameron Russell sets out her argument with a relatively performative act, as she appears on stage wearing a dress that highlights her physical attributes associated with the status of a model. After introducing herself, she states: “I feel like there's an uncomfortable tension in the room right now because I should not have worn this dress” (Russell), gathering the reaction from an audience in a form of a genuine laughter. Later she changes her outfit, thus asserting the main point of her argument about the superficiality of the image: “Image is powerful, but also, image is superficial. I just totally transformed what you thought of me, in six seconds.” (Russell). The use of the word “totally” suggests an informality of the speech. It should also be noted that Russell’s speech is supplied by technical gadgetry, namely a large digital screen that is used to produce a visual effect on the audience through display of photography and texts.While commenting on the presented image on the screen, Russell concludes the main thesis of her speech: “There's very little that we can do to transform how we look, and how we look, though it is superficial and immutable, has a huge impact on our lives” (Russell).

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