Cindy Crawford Gets Real About The Unrealistic Pressures Placed On Women

Lexy Lebsack
Refinery 29 UK

"There is a lot of pressure on women to, well, not age," Cindy Crawford tells me. "I am probably even more sensitive to it — but you can’t keep chasing this impossible thing...as much as I try to take care of myself, I still don’t look like my daughter when I wake up in the morning — and I don’t want to feel bad about that."

Over the course of my 20-minute conversation with one of the supermodels of the past 30 years, Crawford did not mince words, discussing everything from the negative effects of body pressure put on models today to the industry's need to continue down an inclusive path. "I have a daughter who is entering this world, and the expectation is for them to be even thinner now. I was always a size 6; I was never super-skinny and I never felt bad about it... You could have boobs, you could have hips, you could have a little extra flesh. Now, the models are expected to be so much thinner."

Of course, her attitude toward ageing and body image is far from DGAF — rather the opposite, she believes that taking care of yourself in every way possible and championing acceptance and inclusivity are far from mutually exclusive. And yes, she even shared some pretty killer beauty secrets, from the under-£20 body routine she's been doing for decades to the products she uses on the regular, during our chat.

Ahead, the completely candid conversation with the original Super herself.

What’s something you did for your skin in your 20s that you’re thankful for today?

"I would say two things. I remember growing up using baby oil and iodine to get as tan as I could. Then, I was on a job when I started modelling and I wanted to get tan the first day and my face got completely fried. The makeup artist was so mad at me because it’s really hard to cover up a sunburn. Starting then, I never let my face get sunburned. I wore sunscreen, I wore a hat, I sat under an umbrella. Prevent that extra sun damage in your teens and 20's and you’ll see the results later.

"The other thing is that I never smoked. A lot of my counterparts did, and I feel like now I see that it's not great for your skin in a lot of ways."

We’ve seen a rise in pro-ageing rhetoric lately. As a society, do you think that our view on ageing has changed over the last few decades?

"There is a lot of pressure on women to, well, not age. Being a model and having your whole career being based on how you look, I am probably even more sensitive to it — but you can’t keep chasing this impossible thing. With myself, my friends, and with Meaningful Beauty, we try to talk about looking great at every age.

"It’s not about looking 20, or looking 30, 40, or 50, it’s about looking like you take care of yourself. Exercising, eating right, taking care of your skin — that is looking great at every age, and that’s the message that I really believe in, partly because I’m getting older. As much as I try to take care of myself I still don’t look like my daughter when I wake up in the morning — and I don’t want to feel bad about that."

How do you think that the beauty standards for models have changed over the years?

"Fashion is always changing, so if you think about the generation before me, it was blond hair and blue eyes, and then that left and they were very athletic, and that kind of left room for my group. We all kind of looked different, but we all looked good together somehow — and could have bodies, we could have real bodies. And then that went into Kate Moss, who was the waif.

"I have a daughter who is entering this world and the expectation is for them to be even thinner now. I was always a size 6; I was never super skinny and I never felt bad about it. The photographers that I worked with loved that, Helmut Newton and Herb Ritts, they celebrated a woman’s body. You could have boobs, you could have hips, you could have a little extra flesh. Now the model are expected to so much thinner. That that is the biggest change I’ve seen. Some girls are naturally that thin, but a lot of girls are not.

"I think that the idea of beauty should always be about broadening: different colours, different hair, not everyone should look the same. When every model is expected to a size zero, I don’t necessarily think that is a great message for women. The biggest change that I have seen for the young women that are modelling today is even more pressure to be even thinner."

What beauty lessons have you taught your daughter?

"I think we teach each other. She’s so unafraid of trying new things, partly because of her age, but partly because this generation has access to YouTube videos. She’ll come downstairs and be like, 'Look, my makeup is different today.' She reminds me that makeup is supposed to be fun.

"I think the best thing that she's learned from me, besides to wash it all off every night before you go to bed, is to use good products on your skin. You can get away with a very inexpensive eye shadow or lipstick, but make sure what you’re putting on your skin is really good. And then, less is more — you don’t want people to say that your makeup looks really good, you want people to say that you look good."

Are there any beauty products you’ve used from the very beginning of your career that you still use today?

"Not on my face; the science has changed so much and my skin’s needs have changed so much. As a teenager, I used stuff so I wouldn’t break out, then I started getting really serious about skin care in my late 20s, and even that’s evolved.

"I have on my body, however. Another model introduced me to dry brushing when I was 19 years old and I still do that, and I love it. I do that before I shower, then after I shower, I use the Neutrogena body oil — the sesame one. The dry brushing gets the dry skin off before you shower, then I apply the body oil and just kind of let it soak in for a second before I dry off. I just love the way my skin feels after."

Walk me through your skin-care routine.

"I am lucky because I met Dr. [Jean-Louis] Sebagh when I was 28 years-old and it really was the perfect time in my life, just when I was starting to look ahead and think, 'Oh, I’m not going to look 21 forever, so I better start taking my skin care seriously.' We developed Meaningful Beauty for me, but also to share.

"It's evolved, but right now I use our cleanser. I love it because it’s creamy and soft and it doesn’t leave my skin feeing dry. I always use my eye cream — over the years I was always very concerned about my dark circles, and I always wore concealer, but using our eye cream, I find that I don’t have to use concealer anymore because the area feels hydrated, but also tighter. Then I use our new serum in the morning; I love it. It’s the firming treatment.

"But the most important thing that I wear every day is our antioxidant sunscreen — you have to protect your skin during the day. Dr. Sebagh always says that the daytime is for protecting and the nighttime is for restoring. At night, I use our Crème de Sérum; when you wake up you have super hydrated, dewy looking skin."

If someone has never tried Meaningful Beauty and they want to try just one product to start, what should it be?

"Oh, I don’t know. We have another product that I like called the Glowing Serum, and it gives your skin that glow if you’re going out for dinner or if you’re going to an event. It gives you that dewy, JLo cheek — I love that product. It’s a standalone and can be mixed in with anything you're using."

Why did you decide to do makeup?

"[New releases] are mostly products that I want, or products that our customer say that they want. We tell Dr. Sebagh ‘Hey! Get on this!’ I try not to make the line too overly complicated, I like it to be simple, but some people have special requests or needs. Not everyone’s skin is exactly the same, so a lot of the things that I say we need to make are more lifting, and we come up with the products that address those needs, but we do also listen to our customers."

Before we jump off the phone, I have to tell you a story. I have been sending my dad skin-care products [I get as an editor] for years, but he never uses them. Then I saw him a few weeks ago and his skin was glowing. Turns out he wasn't using things I'd shipped, but rather had just ordered, and finished, a bunch of your products and hadn't even told me!

"I love that story! That is the greatest! And I bet you can really see a difference because a lot of men go from using nothing to even just doing a little and you really see it. My husband uses it! He just says, ‘What do I need?’ and I say this and this and this; I try to keep it really simple for him, but it would be fun to do a men’s line because they don’t need much: a day cream, a night cream, and maybe an eye cream; then either a chemical or physical exfoliant.

"I always say I would love to have a guy in our infomercial because they need skin care, too! Especially because women are taking better and better care of themselves, men need to up their game a little bit!"

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