Cindy Crawford and her son, Presley. (Photo: Gilles Bensimon)
Cindy Crawford is an icon. Hailing from DeKalb, Ill., the supermodel became one of the most recognizable faces in the world starting in the ’80s. She has appeared on hundreds of magazine covers, from Vogue to Playboy. Cindy has been the face of countless brands, from Pepsi to Meaningful Beauty. She has even appeared in videos for ’80’s it-band Duran Duran and Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood.”
Crawford is turning 50 this year, and in celebration of that milestone is releasing a new book, Becoming, this month. The book features countless amazing photographs of Cindy taken by celebrated photographers such as Herb Ritts, Richard Avedon, and Arthur Elgort. In the book, she dishes about what she learned from each of them — Avedon told her he thought her face looked more beautiful when she wasn’t too thin, and that she should appreciate her strong body, while Elgort taught her to loosen up in front of the camera. The book also clears up myths (she wasn’t discovered in a cornfield), and covers topics such as body confidence and her family life with husband and nightlife entrepreneur Rande Gerber. The couple has been married for 17 years — together for 25 — and are parents to Presley, 16, and Kaia, 14, who is following in Cindy’s footsteps and modeling.
I worked with Cindy a lot in the ’80s and ’90s, and she was the ultimate nice girl. At that time, she was beyond famous — the supermodel’s supermodel. I remember one particular shoot with Walter Chin for an Italian magazine and MTV’s House of Style. A new hairdresser gave her an awful blowout. She sweetly said, “Thank you so much.” And then when he left, she just fixed it herself. It was a scenario where I’ve seen other models throw tantrums, and Cindy was lovely. This week, I was so happy to catch up with her to talk about turning 50, that viral photo, and her daughter following in her footsteps.
Cindy Crawford speaks with Yahoo Beauty Editor in Chief Bobbi Brown. (Photo: Nico Bustos)
Bobbi Brown: Hey Cindy! I am so happy to talk to you — it’s been like a hundred years.
Cindy Crawford: I’ve been watching you on Good Morning America all the time. I just saw you do a thing on contouring.
It was actually an anti-contouring story, but they took all the “anti” out, and made it a contouring story. I don’t like contouring; I don’t believe in it!
I think the thing is it still came off that it’s not for real life.
I know you are turning 50 and I am eight years ahead of you — it’s actually a really good thing. When I turned 50, I realized, I’m just not going to care about all the stuff I used to worry about in my 40s. I just want to be healthy and vibrant. What’s going on in your mind before your birthday?
I felt this way about 40 too; the buildup is way worse. Once the birthday has come and gone, you’re like, “I’m just the same.” I feel like, our society, and especially being a model, we put such significance on those numbers. It is daunting. I do feel that was part of a reason for doing the book, because my reaction about turning 50 was to just like put my head in the sand and hide until it was over. But as you said, there’s also so much to celebrate about the journey that you’ve taken, and we’re so fortunate to be here, with our health. This is my way of embracing it and celebrating — as opposed to being afraid of the number.
Cindy Crawford as a child. (Photo: Courtesy of Cindy Crawford)
I think one of the reasons why you will effortlessly flow into it is because you have such an amazing husband, marriage, children, and family life. Don’t you think that has a lot to do with it?
It’s funny, because I go to a homeopath and the first question he asks you on your visit is, “How happy are you? Rate yourself on the happiness scale today.” I always laugh because my goal in life is not to just be happy; my goal in life is to be present in whatever the moment calls for. Not every moment calls for happiness — to me that’s like rainbows and unicorns.
This past year there was a picture leaked of you and it went viral. Is that something that you are comfortable talking about? It was not a real picture, correct?
Well, gosh, I don’t even know where to start. I was totally caught off guard. I remember I got a call from my publicist saying, “There’s this picture out and we’re trying to get to the bottom of it.” It came out of the U.K., and the shoot that it had come from already ran a year before. We saw the picture — obviously it was all over at that point.
We got in touch with the photographer, who happened to be in Czechoslovakia at the time, so [he was] hard to reach. He was totally apologetic for two reasons. One is that he didn’t put it out, but also, he’s like: “Cindy, let me send you the original picture; you do not look like that.” I mean yes, it was hurtful, and it took me a while to figure out how to feel about it. But I think as a model, the hardest part was that on set [is], 99 out of 100 pictures are not great because you’re trying different things. You pick that one that’s great, and those bad ones used to end up in the garbage. When you shoot digital, every frame — even the one where you’re scratching your nose — those end up on a big screen, and anyone with a camera phone can shoot that then put a weird filter on it, or do whatever they want to it.
It just made me realize that I grew up thinking if something’s written, it must be true; every written word is true. And then, you know, because of the Internet now, you’re like, “Maybe this is some weird guy in his basement typing this?” It doesn’t necessarily have to be true. I think we all know about how pictures aren’t real — good or bad.
It’s interesting, because unfortunately so many women feel insecure looking at perfect magazine images of you and other models, and feel inadequate. Women really grabbed onto this idea that, “We are all human.”
In the book, I do a whole section on body image, because along with that kind of admiration there does come some insecurity. I mean, I’m a woman, so I’m insecure like every other woman. Maybe other people were waiting for the bad shots. I think what was most hurtful to me was, somehow this terrible picture would be more all over than any other thing. That’s what people wanted to believe is the truth.
My kids were very confused by it. Like, “How can they do that?” I really had to teach my daughter this is exactly the thing that I wouldn’t want you to be doing to another girl, even in the name of making women feel good. No one considered if would it make me feel good. So there were so many lessons in it, and it’s been enough time now that I can actually talk about it.
Cindy Crawford on the beach. (Photo: Herb Ritts)
I saw that your daughter Kaia is following in your footsteps and modeling. Is your son interested too?
I think definitely Kaia is more interested in it. When you get a call from Carine Roitfeld to do a shoot — to have Bruce Weber shoot your kids — I don’t think there’s anyone better. I didn’t really get to work with Bruce that much, and he never shot me when I was that young. I just have always been a fan of his. Kaia just turned 14, but she’s been around it her whole life so she is definitely interested in it. Because I’ve had so much experience, she still will listen to me. It’s like the one place where she knows that I know what I’m talking about.
Your son, Presley, looks like a combination of you guys, but Kaia looks so much like you. She’s gorgeous.
When people used to say, “She’s your mini-me,” Kaia would say, “I don’t think we look anything alike!”
I need to tell you, I am a huge fan your husband and his amazing Casamigos tequila. It’s the best tequila out there. I have one almost every day.
The great thing is, I’ve really learned to appreciate just tequila. I mean, I was a Margarita girl in my twenties; I can’t handle the sugar anymore.
Me neither — I drink mine on the rocks with a lot of fresh lime juice, no sugar and sometimes mint. How do you drink yours?
I’m just, on the rocks. I have graduated to just on the rocks — not even a squeeze of lime. Sometimes my husband would put an orange slice in, and I really like the taste of it.
So what do you do to keep yourself in such great shape? What are your power foods? What do you avoid?
We all know the things to do. It’s no secret. If you eat protein and vegetables, that’s probably going to help you not gain weight. I rarely eat bread. I mean I really don’t. Usually I’ll make myself some kind of green crazy smoothie in the morning, and then for lunch, I usually have like a salad with protein. Dinner I try to eat with my family.
What do you do for fitness now?
I get on the treadmill for twenty. Then free weights, and lunges and running stairs and abs. I find [that] for my body and my head, that’s the kind of workout works. I try to do three times a week. Then over the weekend, I’ll do a hike or a bike ride.
Cindy Crawford’s new book, “Becoming.” (Photo: Rizzoli)
What about your skin? You are the face of Meaningful Beauty. Is there anything else that has worked for you?
I’m fortunate because when I look at my mom, I think, “Okay, I can deal with that!” And she never really ever took care of her skin at all. I go to a facialist once a month and get Dermabrasion. I’ve been doing that probably for 15 years now. That’s really helped, and then I do an infrared sauna. Also sunscreen. I definitely am much more careful — I mean I always was careful since I started modeling, but you know, I just don’t take sun all that well.
How about lasers or any tweaks?
You know, I tried once one of those lasers that’s supposed to help with the little brown spots or whatever, and I just didn’t get a result. So no, I haven’t really experimented with lasers, and I think part of it is that Dr. Sebagh is not that big on it. He’s my skin guru, and that’s why we did Meaningful Beauty together. It just wasn’t something … recommended for me.
Maybe it has something to do with our Midwest upbringing, but you are quite a woman.
Thank you, thank you. You too, and I’ll just keep watching you in the mornings when I’m on my treadmills.
Thanks! And tell your husband thanks for his delicious tequila.
I will — we definitely enjoy it at our house!