As many of you may remember from reading about Tyra Banks in The Self-Empowered Woman, oftentimes a pretty face is a great deal more than just another pretty face. Case in point, Cindy Crawford, who at 47 has become an international household name.
Born in DeKalb, Illinois on February 20, 1966, she grew up in a family with her two sisters and a younger brother, Jeff. When Crawford was ten years old her little brother died of leukemia, and his death had a profound effect on everyone in the family. By the time she was a teenager her parents had divorced (1: No Paternal Safety Net).
When in high school, Crawford had a summer job of detasseling corn, and was "discovered" by a newspaper photographer who took a picture of her. At age 16 she decided to begin modeling (2: An Early Sense of Direction), and the next year was runner-up in the Elite Model Management's Look of the Year contest. Soon after, she signed with the Elite Agency in Chicago.
She graduated from high school as valedictorian in 1984 (10: The Critic Within), and won an academic scholarship to study chemical engineering at Northwestern University. When she entered a large science class lecture hall, the professor said, "Honey, this is the wrong room," and she never forgot how annoying it was to have someone think she couldn't be smart simply because she happened to be attractive (13: More Than Meets The Eye).
Realizing that she couldn't juggle both modeling and academics, Crawford dropped out of school to become a full-time model. Chicago photographer Victor Skrebneski became her mentor, and she credits him with teaching her what she needed to know to become successful in front of the camera (4: Supportive Someone). Three years later, she had the opportunity to go to Bali on a ten-day job, but Skrebneski insisted that she not work with other photographers because only he "could make her look good." When she disagreed with him, he warned her that if she left he would never work with her again, but in spite of his threats she accepted the Bali job and ended their professional partnership. (14: Selective Disassociation). The rest is history, and in 1995 Forbes magazine named her the highest paid model on the planet.
From 1991 to 1995 Crawford was married to Richard Gere, who was 17 years her senior. She credits him as being one of the most influential people in her life even though their marriage was a short one (15: Forget About Prince Charming). Since 1998 she has been married to Rande Gerber; they have a thirteen year old son, Walker, and an eleven year old daughter (16: Intensive Motherhood).
In addition to her modeling work, Crawford has been active on TV and in films. She has also launched a line of furniture and home goods, as well as a line of skin care products called Meaningful Beauty. These ventures have been successful even though she has no formal training in any of those fields (11: Risk Addiction).
Jeff's death as a little boy was devastating to Cindy's entire family (12: Hard Times), but she seems to have been particularly touched by his illness. She even told Oprah that his passing, in her mind, had been like a rocket booster to help guide her toward her success. For years she has worked hard to raise money for medical research and to support the pediatric oncology program at the University of Wisconsin--Madison, where Jeff was treated (7: Magnificent Obsession).
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