Supermodel Legends Open Up
California surfer girl Christie Brinkley was 18 years old and studying art in Paris when a photographer spotted her. "I dreamed of being an artiste in Paris, and I thought that modeling was just for people who couldn't do anything else," Christie says. "But I did love looking at the magazines and kind of thinking, 'What would that be like?'"
Christie says the man asked her to come to his studio and pose for photographs, but she shrugged off his offer at first. "I was like, 'Yeah, right. I'm [not] going to fall for that,'" she says.
Then, a few days later, a friend of Christie's explained the man was, indeed, a noted photographer. "Out of curiosity, I thought, 'Well, let me go check it out,'" she says. "I swung by my house, and grabbed a couple hats and things so I could change my look."
The photographer took a few snapshots of this California girl, and the rest is history. The photos landed on the desk of a modeling scout, and within months, Christie was the face of everything from Chanel perfume to Prell shampoo.
But, beyond the dazzling smile, Christie's had her share of heartache. In 2008, Christie's fourth marriage to Peter Cook ended in a much-publicized, painful divorce. Now, she says she's learned her lesson. "I'm way too trusting," she says.
Although she still believes in love, she doesn't see another marriage in her future. "Marriage is to try to formalize a lot of things for the sake of the kids," Christie says. "My kids are growing up now, and that's not necessary."
At 57, Christie is an activist, artist, actress, the proud mother of three and a cover girl who's more creative than ever.
During her modeling days, Christie says she used to sketch in her journal. Today, she paints, sculpts and creates artwork from her Hamptons home. "I have to be creating all the time," Christie says.
Watch as Christie discusses her latest project—a starring role on Broadway!
Christie says a vegetarian diet and the way she takes care of herself physically, spiritually and emotionally helps her look fantastic at 57. "Plus, great genes; my mom, at 80, is gorgeous," she says. What else does every woman need? "A great dermatologist."
"I wanted to be Brooke Shields," Stephanie says. "And my mother was an aspiring photographer, so I was, of course, the only one who would sit still long enough for her to get things in focus, and I loved doing that."
But don't let her photos fool you. In reality, Stephanie says she's shy, and when the camera starts clicking, she has to transform herself. "I decide what character I am," she says. "I allow myself to become another person. Because if I'm just Stephanie, I'm not comfortable. When I have to jump and do all these things, I feel so silly, but if you become someone else, it's okay."
Looking back on her early fame, Stephanie says her success could have been dangerous. "I, luckily, came from a very middle class, very grounded family, but I don't think it's healthy because you're really a child suddenly with a lot of money and a lot of attention and you're flying all over the world," she says. "It's a lot to take in. So you just try to keep your feet on the ground."
For the past few years, however, Stephanie's personal life has been tabloid fodder. She and her husband, Peter Brant, were in the throes of what seemed to be a bitter divorce, complete with name-calling and ugly accusations, until they recently decided to reconcile. "I had an epiphany," Stephanie says. "[I] went to my husband's house with a sort of peace offering. ... I just said to him, 'We both love our children too much to let this go on any further.' Most of what's said in the press really is nonsense, and we just decided then and there to reconcile and work things out between the two of us."
Stephanie also got bloggers buzzing recently when a photographer snapped a private moment Stephanie shared with her 17-year-old son, Peter. While on vacation in St. Barths, Stephanie and Peter embraced on the beach, and a writer described the moment as "strangely intimate."
Stephanie says the media's response is a misinterpretation. "I've gone through a lot in the past two years, and I gained a lot of weight, and it really upset me. So I spent two days indoors, and when I came out and finally decided to just go outside, my son was so happy to see me," she says. "He was wooing me and gave me a big hug and a kiss, and we had no idea that that one second would be turned into something that could ever be thought of as [inappropriate]. He's my baby. He's a gorgeous young man, but he's my baby."
Funny thing was, when Beverly shot the cover, she says she didn't realize she was making history. "Not until the press started calling," Beverly says. "It was such a huge responsibility for a 22 or whatever-I-was-year-old woman. I just wanted to be a model."
Being a young "it" girl had its dangers too. When Beverly was starting out, she says she had issues with body image. At one point, this 5'9'' model weighed just 103 pounds. "Everybody kept saying how fabulous I looked and how chiseled to the bone and gorgeous [I was]," Beverly says.
Beverly's mother set her straight about her weight. "It wasn't until my mom dragged me out of the bathtub and took me in front of this three-way mirror that she had in her room that I went, 'Oh,'" Beverly says. "My bones were sticking out in the back."
At 25, Beverly says she also suffered from a midlife crisis and worried that her career would soon come to an end. "At that time, the careers were five, six years, and you were in and out, and that was scary—not knowing what you were going to do after this," she says. But, Beverly pushed past her fears and became stronger. "I always feel like it was one of my things that made me grow up and made me try to start developing other parts of myself," she says.
It's also Beverly's mission to be a voice for domestic violence survivors. "I am a victim of domestic violence," she says. "I just think we've become so desensitized towards women being beaten and abused and murdered that everybody just thinks it's okay, and it's not."
Soon after donning her famous swimsuit, Cheryl became a household name in 1978 when Time magazine named her the "All-American model." "That completely changed my life," she says. "It was a huge seller and everybody became my friend in America, and I kind of liked that because I would walk down the streets and people would say, 'Hi, Cheryl. How are you doing?' I just thought, 'Oh my God, my world has changed.' All of a sudden, I've got all these friends."
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"[The magazine] made you a real person and not just a stick figure model," Oprah says to Cheryl.
Cheryl eventually stopped modeling and launched a design career. "I thought, in modeling, I was always in competition with myself," she says. "Not with other girls."
At photo shoots, Cheryl says she used to do her own hair and makeup, and she even helped the photographers carry the equipment. "The girls [now] are pampered a little bit more," she says.
Even though Cheryl was a natural beauty, she says she didn't always feel camera-ready. "I was always in competition with myself, as I said," Cheryl says. "Some days were not so good, and on those not-so-good days, I would drink a lot of water. I would talk to friends. I would go on a hike."
Today, Cheryl's still spectacular at 63 years old. When it comes to aging, she doesn't think the process is any worse for supermodels. "I think every woman, maybe every man, looks in the mirror and says, 'Oh my God, there's a wrinkle,'" Cheryl says. "So we're all in the same boat."
In fact, the agency had everything to gain...they signed the Australian beauty, and eight months later, Elle landed her first television commercial.
In the mid '80s, Time magazine nicknamed Elle "The Body" and that body landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated's coveted swimsuit issue a record five times—more than any other model.
At 47, Elle is now the mother of two boys, the global spokesperson for Revlon and the head of a lingerie empire. "I'm more confident about the way I look today because I have access to better hair and makeup people and better lighting," Elle says with a laugh. "But, as a woman, I don't put as much importance upon the way I look. It's really about who I am as a person."
Paulina isn't afraid to talk openly about the aging process. "Nothing ages as poorly as a beautiful woman's ego," she says. "Every time a guy passes by me when I've made an effort and doesn't take a second look, it hurts a little bit."
She still remembers an incident with a mail carrier that bruised her model ego. "My mailman handed me a letter and told me he wasn't sure if I was aware that there was a hot model living in my building. And he was speaking of me," she says. "It hurts a little bit."
Although aging may hurt sometimes, Paulina is grateful for the experience. "I could just go and Botox it all away, and I would be all plumped up and looking 10 years younger and reinvigorated, but then I'm just delaying the process," she says. "You forget to remember that aging is a privilege, and it's not a birthright."
Veronica broke new ground in the industry when she became the first African-American model to land a multimillion dollar contract with a major cosmetics company, but she says her rise to the top wasn't easy.
"Weight was always an issue," she says. "I grew up eating everything deep fried. Everything was baptized in deep fat. We can't eat that way and be slender. You can't eat that way and have great looking skin—you just can't. Your weight is very much tied to your self-esteem if you allow it. I really had to get that under control."
Over time, Veronica says she realized that who she was and what she did for a living were two different things. "Who you are is how you live your life and the way you treat people," she says. "It's not being defined by your job."
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