Penthouse Retrospective

by Karen Moline Originally Published: February, 1993

Cindy Crawford

Are models unfairly perceived?

A lot of models started when they were 16, so they didn’t finish high school. That doesn’t mean models are dumb – it means they’re uneducated. It’s a big difference. But I do think stereotypes for every walk of life are disappearing. People used to just see a model from her pictures; they had no idea who you were and maybe they didn’t want you to be smart.

But it’s still true that the most important thing about a model is what she looks like and what she wears.

When feminism started and a lot of women entered the workplace, they felt they had to reject their feminine side, but that’s a great aspect of who we are. Why should we deny that when we enjoy it and it makes us who we are? Women should realize that what we’re showing is a fantasy. You don’t want to walk around looking like a Cosmo cover, but it’s fun to know that the possibility exists.

And the modeling life is no fantasy for many of the models.

It’s hard. A lot of girls get really lonely and make the wrong choices and get screwed up. A lot move to New York or Europe when they’re 16, 17, and have to act like a grown-up. They don’t yet have the capabilities to make decisions, but they have to because no one else is around to help them. I’m glad I didn’t have to do that.

But you did try your luck in Europe at one point.

Only for three weeks, so it didn’t feel that bad. It was lonely, I didn’t know anybody, and I felt very unhip in my little denim skirt [Laughs].

How do you handle the stress that comes with your career?

When I get upset, the first place I feel it is in my stomach. It’s like a trigger, and then I know I have to talk about things and not keep it down. A lot of women, especially in America, are not taught how to express anger, because anger isn’t considered a female emotion.

Do you practice meditation or breathing techniques to deal with your feelings?

I never could get into the breathing thing. I know it works – I just don’t have the patience to do it. I prefer affirmations [repeating positive statements about oneself]. I write them down. I’ll say them in a mirror, and be honest. It’s hard work but really rewarding.

Have you ever been to a therapist?

Yes. I was very curious about it, so I went to see a shrink for a while. I didn’t go for very long because she said, “Well, you know, Cindy, you’re doing pretty well right now …. “ We just ended up talking about books, and I realized I don’t need to pay someone $100 an hour to be my friend. But it was worth it. I think it’s good when people are on a journey to seek out help.

So many people won’t talk about their weaknesses and fears. I know that when I can talk to my friends about what I’m afraid of or my problems, I feel so much lighter afterwards. There’s nothing wrong with getting help. I know a lot of people haven’t realized that yet.

One woman who never got enough help was Marilyn Monroe. Recently, designer Isaac Mizrahi referred to you as a “modern-day Marilyn.” He said you were like a bombshell.

Oh, that’s funny. It makes me laugh! [It’s like] bimbo used to mean stupid – and I think that most of the “bimbos” I know are really smart. They use bimbohood to get what they want. Now I’m not saying that I would do it that way, but girls who do it know exactly what they are doing. And I’m not sure what the exact connotation of bombshell is, but if I am one, it sure has opened a lot of doors. People pay attention to you. If you have something worthwhile to say, people listen to you.

The original supermodel is more confident than she used to be, but still has realistic expectations for her future. Learn some more about the model men admire and women emulate.