Different Is Cool recently introduced Courtney Bingham as our newest Ambassador of Cool and Contributing Editor. We are very excited to partner with Courtney as her extensive experience in the fashion, film and beauty industries will provide a unique perspective on some of the societal attitudes and perceptions that marginalize people, particularly when based on their external attributes. As a former elite model, Courtney understands that, in the cut-throat world of high-fashion modelling, there is value in her external beauty. She also knows that there are many standards of beauty, it truly is in the eye of the beholder, and that every person has the right to FEEL beautiful – and the most beautiful thing about a person is their heart.
“Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” ~Kahlil Gibran
At DisC, our goal is to break down barriers between people and increase compassion through understanding – Courtney brings the awesome qualities of kindness and joy to her work and her daily life, and we know that her articles will be inspirational, uplifting and informative. Just what the world needs.
To give you an idea as to the breadth and depth of Courtney’s experience, here’s a little background:
At 17, Courtney Bingham began modeling with the prestigious agency, Wilhelmina Models. Soon after, Courtney moved to Europe with her mother to pursue her career as a high fashion model. She was a favourite of the Milanese design house Dolce & Gabbana.
At 22, Courtney moved from Beverly Hills to New York City to continue her modelling career. The next two years were spent in between New York City and Miami Beach working full time modelling and developing her swimwear cover up line, “Cover Ups by Courtney” [available online and in select boutiques].
From 2006-2008 Courtney lived in Los Angeles and worked at Paramount Pictures/CFP Productions under Christine Peters. (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, The Out of Towner’s).
It wasn’t long before Courtney realized her desire and passion for making movies and in 2011 she produced the film “Inappropriate Comedy” starring Adrien Brody, Rob Schneider, Michelle Rodriguez and Lindsay Lohan. Slated for release in 2013.
In July 2012, Courtney launched her Do It Yourself website and blog. Via her website and social media, Courtney shows followers how to get the look they want for less from home décor to fashion and beauty secrets. She is now developing, “The How 2 Girl” – a 30-minute television show in the vein of Martha Stewart Living for the 40 and under demographic.
In, this, our first “In Conversation with Courtney Bingham”, we explore media messages of beauty standards, dealing with insecurities and how to live with a creative spirit:
DisC: All women have insecurities [even gorgeous models?]. How can a woman set aside the media messages of beauty standards and embrace their own unique qualities?
CB: There are so many poor messages being sent to us about what is beautiful and what isn’t. Take People Magazine’s Most Beautiful People Issue or Maxims Hot 100 for example. A little girl or boy reads that and thinks that’s what they’re supposed to look like. What they don’t know and what it doesn’t tell them in these magazines, as well as fashion magazines, is that this is not how this person looks when they roll out of bed. There is a huge team of trainers, makeup artists, hair dressers, stylists, nutritionist, facialist… you name it, to get them looking like this, and even with all of that help they still get tweaked in Photoshop. Any wrinkles, extra weight, blemish, etc is all fixed, but no one tells you that so you think that is what’s beautiful and that’s how you should look. One of my favorite quotes is when Cindy Crawford said “I don’t wake up looking like Cindy Crawford.” So there you go!
Being a model on shoots and being around the other girls, I would always hear models complaining about their “flaws” – Cellulite (which wasn’t even there) or imaginary fat on their thighs, or “I need a nose job because my nostrils aren’t even.”
It made me realize from a young age that no matter how “beautiful” someone was, everyone has insecurities. EVERYONE, I don’t care who you are!
When I was first starting out in modelling and even in high school, I would constantly compare myself to other girls…
It’s only after I accepted what my attributes and strong points were on every level, not just physically, and what my weaknesses were – that I truly felt confident with myself.
The best thing I ever learned is that I wasn’t in competition with anyone but myself. What I mean by that is instead of feeling bad about things I can’t change, or things I don’t love, I work the things that I do love and I know that no one is perfect! Embrace what you’ve got and don’t worry about what you don’t have because no one gets 100% of what they want even if you think they have it I guarantee you they feel differently. Don’t make the grass greener on the other side, make it SUPER GREEN on your side!!!
DisC: We love that your Do It Yourself blog focuses on accentuating the positives in life – showing that everyone can live with abundance when they frame their life in a positive way – how did you learn those values?
CB: Growing up my mom worked like crazy to take care of me, we never had a lot of money and sometimes were barely getting by, but we always managed to have an amzing life! We traveled a lot, had amzing meals and did fun things all of the time. My mom was, and still is, the queen of living well on a budget. I think seeing that growing up I knew it was possible to have a rocking life without breaking the bank.
DisC: You’re a very creative person [we LOVE your decor tip on accessorizing chandeliers] - is creativity something that can be learned? Where do you find inspiration?
CB: As a little girl I was constantly at the craft store, and my father is a set/production designer so there were always fun, creative projects going on at his house. I loved making stuff; everyday I was at it with something.
In highschool I started having a real eye for decor and fashion but I couldn’t afford most of what I wanted. I bought my first sewing machine, I would make clothes, I made a comfortor, sheets and pillowcases out of satin silk for my room, candles, sewed purses, you name it. Anything I liked I would figure out how to make it myself. Not only was this super inexpensive to do but I had the time of my life doing it. From then on I realized that you don’t need a lot of money and you don’t need to be an “expert” to have fabulous things in your life, and the best part was how much fun I had doing it and loved getting creative! I set out to show people how to spice up their lives on a budget with my Do It Yourself website and the new TV Show I’m working on “The How 2 Girl.”
If you’re looking to find ways to cultivate your inner beauty, Different Is Cool recommends the inspirational and practical book,
Beauty isn’t skin deep — it’s soul deep
Women’s wellness visionary Victoria Moran offers inspiring advice and practical suggestions that will make any woman look and feel more radiant. Each compact essay contains a tip you can put to use today to heighten your awareness of your own inner beauty, illustrating how true sparkle comes from a sense of wholeness. Women of all ages will relate to Victoria’s reflections on her journey to a deeper understanding of inner radiance — beauty that is soul deep.
This sane, sensible approach to a strong self-image and loving self-care is firmly grounded in spiritual common sense, the marriage of body and soul. You start by lighting up your life — and before you know it, you’re lighting up the room.