The stunning transformation of Cindy Crawford

You might very well choose Cindy Crawford if you were asked to name the most iconic model of all time. The star was one of the world's first "supermodels," a new breed of catwalkers who grabbed and held the public's attention in the '90s (via Vogue). Of these supermodels, Crawford may have had the biggest impact on the industry. As fashion designer Michael Kors once famously said, according to Hello! magazine, "Cindy changed the perception of the 'sexy American girl' from classic blue eyed blonde to a more sultry brunette with brains."

While Crawford is now officially retired from modeling, her legacy lives on. Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid, two megastars in today's beauty industry, have both cited her as one of their idols. Taylor Swift included Crawford in her music video for "Bad Blood." Her name was even used to decorate sell-out items from the popular clothing brand Reformation (via Vogue). While we all know Crawford was once one of the country's most iconic models, what was she like as a child and what is she up to now? Here is the stunning transformation of Cindy Crawford.

Cindy Crawford's tragic experience at a young age changed her for life

When Cindy Crawford was very young, a tragic event became a formative experience that shaped the rest of her life. She was just 8 when her 2-year-old brother Jeff was diagnosed with leukemia. When she was 9, Jeff passed away. Crawford said that this horrific event taught her to grieve at a young age. She recalled to InStyle, "No one knows what to say to you ... because as a society we are so uncomfortable talking about death and grief." 

It was Crawford's mother who taught her the most, as "she allowed herself to grieve," as Crawford explained. Her mother also threw herself into charity work. Crawford, now an active advocate for pediatric cancer research, cites her mother as her inspiration. Crawford shared that her mother's work "showed [her] there's something you can do with this grief, something that's a good thing."

Her brother's tragic death has also led Crawford to appreciate life and take nothing for granted. Crawford even believes that the horrible event helped her find success later in life, as it pushed her to set high goals.

Cindy Crawford resolved to make her own money from a young age

Cindy Crawford was born Cynthia Ann Crawford in DeKalb, Illinois on Feb. 20, 1966. According to Marie Claire, her father, John, and her mother, Jennifer, were childhood sweethearts. For a time, Cindy Crawford's "all-American upbringing" was pretty mundane. However, as the model told TheLeapTV, her parents divorced when she was in high school, and her family struggled to make ends meet. Crawford explained that she saw her father controlling her mother financially by withholding money week by week. This experience led to Crawford's firm resolve to earn her own living. She explained her thinking at the time, saying, "I'm never going to be her."

As a teenager, she worked on local farms "cleaning and shucking corn." However, she quickly found that modeling jobs were also a lucrative option. Crawford explained to Marie Claire, "When I started modeling, I [treated] it like a job, not a lifestyle." This professional, level-headed approach (which stemmed from her early financial difficulties) has since become famous, as noted by Elle Canada.

Cindy Crawford discovered modeling when a prank backfired

Cindy Crawford began her modeling career at a relatively young age. However, it turns out, her first thoughts of becoming a model occurred as the result of a cruel prank gone wrong. In 2015, Elle published a few excerpts from Crawford's book Becoming, including the story of how she discovered the modeling profession. Apparently, Crawford received an unexpected call from one of the local clothing stores that claimed to be interested in hiring her as a model. Crawford explained that she had never considered modeling as a career until this moment. She shared in her book that she "didn't even know it was a real job."

However, when Crawford arrived for her interview, she discovered that the call had been a prank orchestrated by two of her high school peers, who were "standing on the corner laughing." Crawford's high school bullies undoubtedly felt ridiculous years later when Crawford became the one of the highest paid models of all time!

Cindy Crawford's career was launched by a picture in a college newspaper

During her junior year of high school, Cindy Crawford experienced something that changed her life: A local photographer came across Crawford and asked to photograph her for the Northern Illinois University paper. Although her parents were initially suspicious, Crawford did the photoshoot. A photo of her by her boyfriend's pool became her first cover, as noted by Elle.

Crawford explained in her book Becoming that the photograph was life-changing, as reported by Vanity Fair. After the photoshoot, the photographer suggested she find a modeling agent. Crawford followed his advice. She went to Chicago, found an agent, and quickly began securing highly coveted modeling work. Crawford explained the significance of her first cover photoshoot, saying, "This one photograph opened my eyes to a whole new world and started me down the path of modeling." It's pretty amazing that one photograph literally changed Crawford's life forever!

Cindy Crawford was a straight-A student

Even though Cindy Crawford began modeling in high school, she didn't initially think it could turn into a full-time career. In an interview with Vogue, the star explained that she had planned on a career in chemical engineering. After graduating as the class valedictorian, she attended Northwestern University on an academic scholarship. It's pretty clear that the young Crawford was whip smart. At the time, Crawford was completely focused on her academic endeavors. She explained to Vogue that she got her confidence from being "a straight-A student." She added, "It had been my thing."

Crawford ended up dropping out of university to pursue modeling, but she learned a lot from the experience. She explained to Fern Mallis in an interview (via Harper's Bazaar), "It was the only time in my life where I felt visual discrimination. I walked into one of my chemistry classes and the professor said 'I think you're in the wrong class, honey.'" 

It's clear that Crawford's brief stint at college taught her to challenge people's expectations of her as just a pretty face.

Cindy Crawford's iconic mole was edited out of some of her early work

One of Cindy Crawford's most defining features is a mole above her lip. But that beauty mark made her a target for bullies when she was young. As Crawford told Vogue, "I would get teased by the other kids in school, so I definitely wanted to get it removed." Apparently, her mother didn't support the idea, saying, "You know what your mole looks like, you don't know what the scar is going to look like." Later, when she began to model professionally, the mole was sometimes edited out of the picture, as Crawford explained to fellow supermodel Naomi Campbell on "No Filter with Naomi." She was even told by a modeling agency early on that she'd need to get the mole removed to succeed in the industry.

Despite having initial doubts about her mole, it eventually became an iconic part of her look. She explained to Campbell, "It became the thing that set me apart in a weird way." And she was right — in 2017, Vogue even included it in a list of the "greatest beauty marks of all time."

Cindy Crawford believes her career was defined by one magical "supermodel moment"

Cindy Crawford is best known for being one of the supermodels who defined an entire era of fashion. According to Daily Record, the age of the supermodel has come and gone. For Crawford, there is one moment that stands out as the highlight. She explained to Daily Record, "The highlight of my career was, I think, that supermodel moment when Linda, Christy, Naomi and I came out for a Versace show to a George Michael song which we had just done the video for." She said it was "like a frozen moment in time — that moment defined supermodel." 

And Crawford isn't wrong. As Vogue put it, it was the "performance that kicked-off the decade of supermodel." After walking the runway to that iconic song, Crawford, along with supermodels Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, and Christy Turlington, enjoyed the peak of their careers in a truly legendary time for fashion.

Cindy Crawford learned a lot from her relationship with Richard Gere

Cindy Crawford's short-lived marriage to Pretty Woman actor Richard Gere wasn't a successful one. The couple parted ways in 1995 after four years. At the time, Crawford explained to People, "We didn't spend enough time together." However, the star has since divulged that the brief marriage taught her quite a lot. She told Porter (via People), "I learned a lot from Richard," noting, "I learned about how to be famous. ... And a lot of the personal things, everything else I learned from that, were for me." Crawford was vague about what exactly she learned from Gere, but it's clear she did a lot of personal growing during the marriage.

In 2016, Crawford spoke to comedian Marc Maron on his podcast WTF. She explained that the relationship didn't work out because the pair were never friends before getting together. This meant that Crawford spent the marriage trying to impress Gere, and when she started "growing into [her]self," the relationship became harder to manage. "It's hard to change the nature of a relationship once you're already in it," she explained. Sounds like Crawford's first marriage taught her how to approach romance without compromising her own identity or interests — a great skill for anyone to have!

Cindy Crawford found true love with Rande Gerber

After her failed marriage with Richard Gere, Cindy Crawford eventually found true love with Rande Gerber. Crawford struck up a friendship and then a romance with Gerber shortly after her divorce from Gere, according to Marie Claire. In 1998, the couple was married. But it hasn't always been smooth sailing with Gerber. For one thing, the marriage forced Crawford to reimagine her approach to interior decoration and make a few adjustments to her way of life.

Crawford spoke to People in 2017, and said, "I definitely came from a more traditional aesthetic and he came from more of this, like, contemporary thing." When the couple started sharing a house together, their different styles clashed and they found it difficult to agree. However, with some practice, the couple has learned to compromise. Crawford explained, "We push each other, so I think we would both agree that our combined projects are more layered and interesting because they have to make room for both of our aesthetics." Just taking a look at the couple's home on Instagram, it's pretty clear that their design compromises have paid off!

Cindy Crawford always wanted to be a mother

After her marriage to Rande Gerber, Cindy Crawford would go on to give birth to two children, Presley and Kaia. She told TheLeapTV, "I always knew I wanted to be a mother, and it's been even better than I ever could have dreamed." Still, starting a family can mean making sacrifices to your way of life for most people — and Crawford was no different. For instance, since having her children, Crawford has always thought about family before making any career decisions, as she told TheLeapTV.

She's also had to adjust her approach to her own insecurities. She told the Los Angeles Times, "I do know that kids watch you." Noting that she tries to make it a point not to voice any negative thoughts she has about her body, she shared, "Even though I still have insecurities, I want to be a good example even if I'm faking it sometimes." Sounds like motherhood has really made Crawford rethink her priorities.

Cindy Crawford developed a more relaxed approach to body image

In her heyday, Cindy Crawford was not only a supermodel — she was also something of a fitness mogul. As reported by Women's Health, one of Crawford's videos with trainer Radu Teodorescu became one of the best-selling workout videos of the '90s. As Crawford explained to The Cut, Teodorescu got her "passionate about fitness." Naturally, over time, her passions have changed.

Since having her two children, Crawford has developed a new relationship with fitness and with her body image. While she's no longer obsessing about how she looks, she still tries to stay healthy. She explained to Daily Record, "I still try to eat healthily and work out when I can, but it's not such a big deal." And despite having relaxed her fitness regimen, Crawford proudly stated, "I'm actually happier with my body now than I was back when I was modeling."

Cindy Crawford has embraced Instagram, but she doesn't always understand social media

At the peak of Cindy Crawford's career, the world was a pretty different place. Back in the '90s, the internet was still a new concept, and platforms like Instagram and Twitter were practically inconceivable. After her thriving career in a world without social media, Crawford has learned to embrace platforms like Instagram and YouTube. Crawford gained an impressive Instagram following of almost 5 million followers.

Nevertheless, the transition to these platforms has been an adjustment for the star. According to Byrdie, Crawford often has to ask daughter Kaia Gerber, who is basically Crawford's twin, for help with her photos and captions. While Crawford has come a long way on social media, she'll probably never be as Instagram-savvy as her Gen Z daughter. Crawford confessed, "I don't even understand her captions half the time, but meanwhile, she has more followers than me so she must be doing something right."

Cindy Crawford went from supermodel to super savvy businesswoman

Cindy Crawford could never be accused of being unambitious. Before her rise to fame, models were models — seeing a model become an entrepreneur or a business mogul was unheard of. DuJour reported how the model-turned-businesswoman managed to challenge the norm and create the career she wanted rather than the career that others wanted for her — her career transitions have included her series of '90s fitness videos and a furniture line.

Her most significant business venture has been to release a skincare brand called Meaningful Beauty. Forbes spoke to Crawford and her business partner Katherine O'Leary about the model's ever-evolving career. O'Leary explained that Crawford always gives everything she has to her projects. According to O'Leary, the pair have managed to create many successful projects because they've "both been able to adjust and adapt to the changing needs of business and life." It seems like Crawford's famous professionalism has helped her to keep evolving and expanding her career through the years. 

Cindy Crawford has aged gracefully

Many publications, including Good Housekeeping, NewBeauty, and Allure, have remarked on the graceful way that Cindy Crawford has aged. However, as The Cut reported, despite her jaw-dropping youthful looks, Crawford has felt the effects of aging like everyone else. As the star confessed to the magazine, "everything changes" with age. For instance, Crawford has noticed that her pillow lines have started to last longer, and her face can stay puffy for a whole day after eating sushi. Crawford also admitted to NewBeauty how aging has affected her skin. "I have a very round face, and over the years, it's like all of a sudden, I've got serious cheekbones that can make my face look severe if I'm not careful," she shared.

Even though Crawford has begun to notice some signs of aging, she has refused to let it get her down. She explained, "I don't need everyone on Instagram pointing out that I don't look the same way I did when I was 20. I know that." We're so impressed by Crawford's logical and measured approach to getting older — sounds like a lot of us could take a page out of her book!