We don’t need to recount the moments that made Cindy Crawford an icon. You just know, as if her most memorable images were somehow etched into your brain before you even really knew what good art was. But that doesn’t make reading her new book, Becoming by Cindy Crawford ($29; amazon.com), any less fun. Looking at the 150 images that span her decades-long career is like seeing them for the first time all over again—you remember where you were when you first saw them, how amazing she is in front of the camera, and how, at 49 years old, the wife and mom of two has still got it.
Taking you even deeper is how Becoming is punctuated with Crawford’s personal stories and the lessons she’s learned over the years, which, as it turns out, is more than simply how to make clothes look good. InStyle recently had the chance to catch up with the woman from the original supermodel girl squad to see how she feels about turning 50 in February, her favorite off-duty look, and what she thinks about this new generation of models.
What made you want to do this book?
I never imagined doing this type of book at all. I had a few people in my life who kept nudging me to do it. I knew what I didn’t want to do, which was a straight autobiography or a coffee table book. Then finally, a few years ago, we were talking about my 50th birthday coming up and planning the year ahead, and the idea came up of celebrating turning 50 with images from my career and tying those into lessons I learned along the way. The intention was to look back and celebrate my career through pictures, but also to celebrate the journey and the women I’ve become, because it’s hard for any woman. Those big birthdays are intimidating. [Laughs.] You could run from it, or embrace it.
How do you feel about turning 50?
This book has helped me process the whole thing. What happens every big birthday for me is that I’m like, “Ugh, I can’t believe it,” and then I wake up the next day and I’m the same. I work myself up about it. But the whole process is something I wish everyone would do for themselves because so often we’re rushing, looking forward, and we don’t take time to reflect on where we’ve come from and where we’ve been and what we’ve learned. All of that experience doesn’t happen in 20 or 30 years—it takes time to live a life.
Your 14-year-old daughter, Kaia, recently signed to a modeling agency. What advice have you given her?
I can’t give her any advice on how to model per se; she’ll have to figure out what she wants to do and how to be a model in front of the camera, because everyone does it differently. The advice I could give her, no matter what job she’s doing, is show up on time, pay attention—just to be professional.
You talk a bit in the book about how you were bullied as a young girl. How have you given your children the tools to deal with this seemingly inevitable occurrence in life?
I had some mean girl experiences, and I wanted to share those because I wanted young women to say, “OK, even Cindy Crawford had that happen.” Learning to deal with it is part of growing up, so with my own daughter I just try to help her understand that it says more about them than it does about her, and to have some compassion—that her first instinct shouldn’t be just to strike back—and to protect yourself, to not let it penetrate your feelings. I still have to work on that.
You’ve made many things famous, but one of our favorites is the men’s shirt.
[Laughs.] I don’t wear a lot of men’s shirts. But my husband’s shirts I love to wear around the house with just underwear, but just with him. I have kids, and my teenage son would be mortified if I walked down like that! But I like that look, because it’s "innocent sexy."
Your skin, of course, is amazing. What are your secrets?
I use my skincare line, Meaningful Beauty, and that’s been my mainstay for the last 10 years, and I have facials once a month. But truly, the secret is to just do the stuff that we know, which is to wear sunscreen; wear a hat; drink a lot of water; try to get enough sleep. The biggest change I’ve made is that with things like wine, or soy sauce, I feel puffy in the morning, so I just don’t partake in those things. I have lemon on my sushi now, which I prefer. I can’t handle soy sauce anymore!
How does the modeling industry differ now then from when you first started?
I don’t think the experience of being in front of a camera is that much different. When you’re modeling you put on an outfit and try to make it look good. For this generation of models, social media is a great tool for them to develop their own voice and their own brand. It’s also a lot more work, because you’re working when you’re not on set. It’s also a responsibility. This crop of models—like the Gigis and the Karlies, Caras, and Kendalls—they are a really exciting group. They all have personalities. I’m interested in them, partly because my daughter is interested in them, so I pay attention to what message they are sending my 14-year-old daughter, and I think they do a really good job.