Cindy Crawford: The Supermodel of the 80s Turns 50

Why does Cindy remain a Supermodel favorite? Here are five reasons why.
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Paulette Cohn
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Why does Cindy remain a Supermodel favorite? Here are five reasons why.
Cindy Crawford Photo

Cindy Crawford at the 66th Cannes Film Festival in 2013. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Cindy Crawford turns 50 on Feb. 20th, and for a minute it looked as if after 30 years in front of the camera, it was enough and the supermodel was hanging up her stilettos.

"I'm sure I'll have my picture taken for 10 more years, but not as a model anymore," Crawford had said in an interview for the February issue of United Airlines' Rhapsody Magazine, taking the fashion world completely by surprise.

The resulting hue and cry was such that just days later she felt it necessary to issue a statement clarifying what she meant. So on Instagram, she explained, "Every year, I tell my kids I'm retiring. It's a running joke in our family. And yet every year, opportunities pop up that really excite me. While it's true that I'm eager to shift my focus a bit to concentrate on my businesses, friends and family -- I'm not making any final statements."

Deep. Sigh. Of. Relief.

Cindy Crawford Magazine Cover Photo

Cindy Crawford, Quebec cover, June 1992. (Photo: via Pinterest)

As popular as she is, Crawford wasn't the first well-known model. There were big-names before her, such as Suzy Parker in the '50s, Twiggy in the '60s, and Cheryl Tiegs in the '70s.

But Crawford was the face of the '80s. And when she came to fame, she changed modeling forever. She saw opportunity, took the bull by the horns and demonstrated that there was more to the job than having a pretty face and posing for magazine covers. The end result was Crawford became one of the first supermodels in the process.

So, in honor of her 50th birthday, here are five reasons why Crawford, who has more than 600 magazine covers to her credit, remains a favorite:

1. Crawford may be all-American, but she translates internationally

Born and raised in the heartland -- DeKalb, Illinois, Crawford is an all-American girl. But because she didn't have the blue eyes and blond hair of several of her successful predecessors -- she's 5 feet 9 inches with brown hair and brown eyes, Crawford was able to take her career international.

"In Italy they think I’m Italian, in South America they think I’m Latin, and in Greece they’re like, 'Are you Greek?,' Crawford told intothegloss.com. "There are a lot of places in the world with people with brown hair and brown eyes."

2. She stood out because she refused to remove her mole

It's hard to imagine Crawford's face without her mole, and it may be that the mole played a big part in her success, despite early days when it was often airbrushed out. But consider that the mole made her more relatable. She was tall and gorgeous with a great body, but the mole meant she wasn't perfect. That tiny "imperfection" allowed women to like her, even as men lusted after her.

In her 2015 book, Becoming By Cindy Crawford, she reveals her real reason for keeping it, despite the teasing she had endured at the hands of her schoolmates, who would ridicule her, saying, "Hey, little Crawford, you have chocolate on your face!"

“But my mother always said, ‘You know what your mole looks like, you don’t know what the scar is going to look like.'”

The mole stayed. Today, it is her trademark. So much so, she gets annoyed when her photos are accidentally flipped in magazines and her mole appears on the wrong side of her face.

3. She's a smart businesswoman

Crawford graduated valedictorian of her class at DeKalb High School. She won a full-ride scholarship to Northwestern University in chemical engineering, but left after one academic quarter and headed to New York to launch her modeling career. But she didn't check her intelligence at the door to the photo studio. Crawford used her smarts to become a brand, rather than just a model.

Once she began to make a name for herself, Crawford locked in deals to become the face of Revlon, Pepsi and Omega watches. She also became a TV personality as host of MTV's House of Style, and she developed her own products. The woman who had graced the cover of the Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue went on to produce her own swimsuit calendar, and her own exercise video, Cindy Crawford: Shape Your Body Workout.

And there was more. She launched a mass-market furniture line, Cindy Crawford HOME® from Raymour and Flanigan, which continues today, and she invested in a variety of projects such as the Fashion Café in New York City, which has since closed, and Planet Hollywood.

4. She Leads a Glamorous Life but Isn't Fodder for the Tabloids

Despite becoming famous in an era that was known for its excesses, Crawford didn't make headlines for bad behavior like some of her fellow models, who were doing drugs, getting into cat fights, or who dated bad boys.

"I regret that I wasn't wilder," Crawford told contactmusic.com. "I was working and I was nervous. I was the one in the corner with the book, being responsible."

Cindy Crawford Family Photo

Presley Gerber, Rande Gerber, Kaia Gerber, and Cindy Crawford at the "Tomorrowland" Premiere at the AMC Downtown Disney on May 9, 2015 in Lake Buena Vista, CA. (Photo: Shutterstock)

But that doesn't mean she didn't lead a glamorous life. Her first husband was Richard Gere (1991-1995), and she has been married to businessman Rande Gerber since May 29, 1998, with whom she has two children, daughter Kaia, 14, and son Presley, 16.

Before you ask, "Why is being married to Rande Gerber glamorous?," the answer is simple. He's best buddies with George Clooney. Actually, they're also business partners in Casamigos Tequila, so Rande and Cindy and George and wife Amal spend a lot of time together.

5. She is all about aging gracefully

The ageless beauty, who developed her own skin-care line with dermatologist Jean-Louis Sebagh when her deal with Revlon ended, says she works at staying young-looking, and that it's something she has been doing for years. (It's just that it pays off at age 50 when the end results are more obvious.)

"The secret is that there is no secret," Crawford said in an interview with VioletGray.com. "Do all the stuff we know: Don't smoke, get enough sleep, drink plenty of water, find what makes you happy."

She also gets microdermabrasion facials, and she uses SPF day cream every day, cleanser day and night, and she uses the night cream, eye cream and the Crème de Serum from her skin-care line, Meaningful Beauty.

Crawford also has a sense of humor about aging, joking that daughter Kaia now has her legs and hair -- and she wants them back! But Kaia is putting them to good use, following mom into the business, having landed a contract with IMG models when she was 13.