Former supermodel Christy Turlington is turning heads today because of her work as a maternal health advocate. We find out more.
While Christy Turlington still makes her mark on the world as a beautiful face, modelling for magazines and fronting brands such as Imedeen of which she is the global ambassador, the ex-supermodel is also fast becoming one of the most visible advocates for maternal health.
In 2010, she started Every mother Counts, a non-profit organisation dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother. The non-profit was born after Christy experienced complications during the birth of her first child Grace, now 12. She started to hemorrhage due to a retained placenta after delivering her.
She then later learnt that thousands of women die yearly from similar situations like the one she had. She then made the documentary No Woman, No Cry to raise awareness about maternal health and subsequently formed Every mother Counts.
She has since had a second child, Finn, now 10, with her actor-director husband Edward Burns. Christy is just as passionate about her role as a mother as she is about her NGO. “Boredom isn’t something I have experienced since becoming a mother and I am really enjoying the surprises that it brings and that every day is different,” she says.
Leading by example in every possible way is important in her role as a mother, and this includes teaching her kids good eating habits. “When it comes to food and exercise, moderation is the best way to live; so just by us as parents living that way I think that’s setting a great example for our kids.”
Now in her 40s, Christy embraces the beauty of growing older. “I think with age comes wisdom. I wouldn’t want to go back in time for anything. I am happy with who I am now.” We couldn’t agree with her more.
Christy Turlington with her daughter Grace Burns (left) and her friends at an event.
How do you balance work and family?
“Balance is an interesting word. I think it’s very difficult to really sustain balance. I like the word ‘integration’ a bit more. Since I became a mother, I know my priorities and my family comes first.
But I am also very passionate about many issues, especially the work I do with Every mother Counts and the advocacy for maternal health. That kind of work feeds me in such a way that I am a better mother for it.
When all of the aspects of my life are complementary, then I am able to feel like I am in balance. It is a daily aspiration and it is certainly not without effort.”
What’s a typical day like for you?
“The beautiful thing is there is no typical day in my life. I may do a photo shoot which is increasingly rare for me these days. Mostly, I start my day by dropping off my children at school and then doing yoga or going for a run, or doing something for myself before starting my work day.
My work day consists of being in the office, speaking at a conference, or travelling to another country where we have programmes that Every mother Counts supports.” Every Mother Counts has helped so many women.
Are there any women who stand out?
“I went to Tanzania in march last year and there were three women who come to mind, whom I met in 2009 when I was there filming No Woman, No Cry. Janet, who walked nearly 10 miles to the clinic to deliver her third baby in the film recently gave birth to her fifth son.
Lightness, the 16-year-old whom we gave a ride to a referral hospital to deliver by emergency C-Section, dropped out of school and just had her second child.
And agnes, who after suffering for 11 years from an obstetric fistula learned she was eligible for free treatment but is now a victim of marital abuse because she hasn’t been able to conceive since. This just proves how difficult women’s lives are and that the way we become mothers will impact the rest of our lives.”
Christy with her husband Edward Burns.
How has your attitude of beauty change over the years?
“I have always believed that beauty comes from within. The way the magazines and the industry have portrayed beauty over the years has actually improved in some ways.
In the 80s we wore so much makeup, and I felt that I covered myself – or rather others were always covering me at work! Now I feel that makeup is more minimal and individualised, which to me has always been more appealing.
I really like the philosophy of ‘less is more’. I want to see my skin, and see my own features. I want to use products to enhance my features, but I don’t want to change or hide them.”
What beauty products do you love?
“I start my day by taking two Imedeen Time Perfection tablets. That’s part of my daily regimen. Other than that, I really like to just use a bit of concealer – maybelline has a product called Instant age-Rewind that’s very light.
I use that and a little bit of maybelline Volume Express mascara and some lip gloss and that’s about it. I don’t like to put a lot of extra stuff on my skin. Moisture is the most important thing for it so once it’s hydrated and I’ve put some concealer on then I feel my best. I also really love this oil called Rodin that I use on my skin and hair.” You also run marathons.
What does it feel like to finish one?
“I ran as a child and rediscovered my love for it when I started training for my first marathon in 2011. Every mother Counts was offered an opportunity to participate in the New york marathon. We were given 10 places to fill.
I knew I had to take the opportunity because it was such good awareness for the organisation, so I ended up calling a few friends and creating a team. During the training it struck me that this was more than raising awareness for Every mother Counts and the campaign – running 26.2 miles helped illustrate the journey that women often make on foot to give birth.
So it felt like a very obvious connection and made the whole thing very meaningful. I ended up running the marathon for the next two years too, and I felt so healthy, so fit, and it was so amazing to be able to learn your city by foot.
I would drop the kids at school and then just go. I have found ways to integrate the running into my day, and because my main work is Every mother Counts, that’s how I justify taking the time to train.”
"I am very passionate about many issues, especially the work I do with Every Mother Counts. That kind of work feeds me in such a way that I am a better mother for it."