Cindy Crawford Hits Her Stride
Cindy's Amazing Life
Frankly, it's a relief to watch Cindy Crawford cleaning dog drool off the couch. Otherwise you might get the idea that things are a little too sunny in her corner of Malibu. Although she's not modeling much these days, the 44-year old Crawford still has magazine-cover looks and a near-perfect physique. And though she keeps busy with two young kids, from her marriage to nightlife honcho Rande Gerber, she manages to oversee a small empire of businesses, with signature skin-care lines on QVC and at Sephora and a vast collection of home furnishings for JCPenney. In short, you kind of need a slobbering pup like Widget, Crawford's cute Maltese Yorkie, to inject some reality into the picture.
But as she wipes the cushion clean and sits down to chat, that intimidating first impression quickly gives way to the real Crawford -- a woman who's beautiful yet accessible, sincere but the first to poke fun at her famous self. "On Twitter the other day I accidentally spelled Chile, the country, with an 'i' at the end, like the food," she laughs. Crawford is comfortably chic in a turquoise V-neck T-shirt, stylishly ripped white jeans, and gold strappy sandals. "I went right back on and wrote, 'Oops. Sorry. I was having a model moment!' The good thing about people underestimating models is that the bar is set so low you tend to impress people more easily."
Not that Crawford ever fit the usual airhead-model stereotype. Back in her hometown of DeKalb, Illinois, she was high school valedictorian and later studied chemical engineering on an academic scholarship at Northwestern University for part of a year before turning to fashion full-time, in 1984. Her look -- with that now-iconic mole -- quickly became famous. While other models were enjoying the club scene, Crawford was producing fitness videos, securing corporate endorsements, and building a brand as host of MTV's House of Style from 1989 to 1995. Today she's at ease and articulate whether she's discussing Haiti relief efforts (she participated in her friend George Clooney's telethon Hope for Haiti Now), the latest Malcolm Gladwell book, or her secrets for the best ways to stay fit.
The real secret, though, may be that Crawford has reached a level of acceptance with herself that has less to do with her looks and everything to do with how she feels inside. As she puts it, "I think I'm holding up pretty well, but what I like most is the sense of power I have. So much of your life you spend trying to prove yourself, trying to make things happen, trying to get somewhere else. But then you get into your late 30s and 40s and realize life is pretty amazing right in front of you if you can just be present in it."
Previous generations had their Twiggys and Lauren Huttons, but Crawford was among the first to turn a pretty face on a magazine cover into a household name and, ultimately, a one-woman empire. By the early '90s she helped make supermodels every bit as famous as A-list movie stars, and her fame went supernova when she married actor Richard Gere, in 1991. Three years after she and Gere divorced, in 1995, Crawford married Rande Gerber and the couple now have two children: son Presley, 11, and daughter Kaia, 8.
"I felt a real change after I had kids," Crawford says, flipping through a scrapbook she grabs from her comfortable, open kitchen. There's Kaia and Presley with huge grins at the family's getaway house in Canada. There's Gerber presiding at a barbecue alongside Crawford's still-youthful-looking mom, Jenny ("Half the secret to looking good is having great genes," Crawford says with a laugh). Crawford delivered both her children at home with a midwife and without drugs and says those experiences gave her a sense of "owning my own body. More than anything in my life, it showed me how strong I am. And you need that strength when the kids aren't babies anymore. Some days I'll say to them, 'Get dressed! Brush your teeth!' 15 times and they're still not listening."
Over in Kaia and Presley's playroom the shelves are piled with board games, there's a rack of mini wooden mountain bikes the kids can probably ride indoors (there's lots of space), and each kid has, whoa, an Apple iPad. Mom has it good, too. Crawford begins most mornings in the Jacuzzi with a cup of green tea before the kids are up ("I need that half hour to collect myself before the craziness starts," she says). There's a pool and a gym on the cliffside property, as well as a secluded beach below.
"I like living here. It's beautiful and it's fun," she says. "But we also have a house in Illinois on a cul de sac in a tiny subdivision near my mother's house. My kids ride their bikes down the street to my mom's house. I'll often say to Rande, 'I could live there. I don't need all this.' He'll roll his eyes, but it's true."