Christy Turlington Says Every Woman Deserves Equal Care, No Matter the Color of Their Skin
Christy Turlington's charity, Every Mother Counts, is celebrating its 10th anniversary next year, which means it's the perfect time for her to look back and celebrate everything she's done to advocate for women's rights since she realized that not everyone was as lucky as she was when she had complications during the birth of her daughter.
Tonight, she's taking home the Advocate Award, presented by Maybelline, a company that Turlington holds near and dear to her heart. During her speech, she explained that the relationships she forged during her days as a model helped her foster the connections she needed to build Every Mother Counts into what it is today: a global organization that helps women no matter the color of their skin or their economic situation.
"I am often asked what my first career taught me about the career that I'm in now and I usually say 'Nothing,' but that's not true. I would say that relationships are something that I learned very early on and people like Amber and so many people at my table, Lisa, who's worked with me for 25, 26 years, the relationships get deep and I'm most proud of those," Turlington said. "Maybelline, I have to say I'm so grateful. We started working together when I was 22 and I turn 50 this year. I think that's an anomaly."
Turlington then reflected on her pregnancies and said that the sudden hemorrhaging after her second daughter was born made her shift her priorities. Today, Every Mother Counts works to assist women that may or may not have access to supplies, medication, and even medical advice during their pregnancies. Turlington spoke on her continuing education and how grateful she was that Maybelline understood her desire to pursue things outside of modeling.
"When I went back to school the first time, I didn't have to give up my day job, because Maybelline respected and supported what I was trying to do with my life and coming through the other side with that, they were there to support me further. The real reason that I'm here tonight is that I became a mom 16 years ago, almost 16 years ago. My daughter will turn 16 on Wednesday," Turlington said.
"Her coming into the world is what woke me up to something I really had no idea about. I went through a really healthy pregnancy and had a lot of options in my team, in my childbirth choices, and had the unexpected happen when I delivered her and I hemorrhaged. I learned shortly thereafter that millions of girls from around the world have the same kind of experiences and complications but they don't have the access to the critical care that I had that day. So, I pretty much dedicated my life to that immediately, but it took me some time to figure out how and what and where. I became a mom a second time again two years later and I went back to school again to Columbia to work on my masters in public health and I made a documentary film called No Woman, No Cry and started an organization. This organization is 10 years old next Mother's Day. It's my third child. It's where I dedicate really 99.9 percent of my time. We're doing incredible work, important work, and I'm so proud of what we're able to do with the support of Maybelline and of so many companies that I work with as a fashion model that have been incredibly generous."
Turlington concluded by celebrating her work, telling the audience that Every Mother Counts is reaching more people than ever and that honors like tonight's shine a light on the good work that the charity is doing. She notes that there's plenty more to do and that the United States is slipping in terms of health access, so the time to take action is now.
"We're working in six countries around the world to provide access through transportation, through supplies, through training midwives and community health workers, and it's making a huge difference in the lives of people. And yet today, we're in a huge internal health crisis in this country. We have just fallen from 46th in the world to 55th and that's unacceptable," Turlington continued.
"Black and Native American women are three to four times more likely to die during childbirth than white women and that is just not acceptable. The visibility and attention that's being put on it finally is going to make a difference. Every Mother Counts is there to work until every woman has access to the same quality of care, equitable care as the next. Thank you so much."