More Than a Pretty Face

America's first set of supermodels talk about aging and body image

Recently, Oprah invited a quartet of iconic supermodels to her show for “a real, honest conversation about this whole beauty thing.” Cheryl Tiegs, 63, Beverly Johnson, 59, Christie Brinkley, 57, and Stephanie Seymour, 42, turned up to dish on everything from weight (Johnson, 5’9”, once got down to 103 pounds; Tiegs has been sent home for being too big) to what it’s like to walk into a room and know everyone’s eyes are on you (Brinkley claims the attention makes her think she has toilet paper stuck to her shoe.)

Oprah pointed out that, despite the perception that life is all champagne and movie premieres for models, these women have faced real heartache. Perhaps most publicly: Brinkley, who just ended her fourth divorce and had to deal with a recent apparent suicide attempt by her daughter with ex-husband Billy Joel, Alexa Ray Joel.

Then there's Seymour, who recently landed in the headlines after so-called “inappropriate” photos of her and her 18-year-old son, Peter, being affectionate on a beach were leaked online. The Victoria’s Secret legend revealed the real story behind the pics: Seymour had recently gained weight and was struggling with her larger physique. After holing up at home for a few days, she decided to say “Screw it!” and hit the beach with her kids. Her son, she said, was just being cute and silly because he was so happy she had finally left her room.

The models had some interesting things to say: Brinkley revealed that the first time she met Eileen Ford, the model mogul told her to eat nothing but “fish and water”; Seymour opined, “You can be the most beautiful woman in the world and if you have nothing to say, your looks dwindle quickly.” But it was a quote from Paulina Poriskova, profiled in a taped segment, that really got me thinking: “Nothing ages as poorly as a beautiful woman’s ego,” the America’s Next Top Model star said. “Every time a guy passes by me when I’ve made an effort and doesn’t take a second look, it hurts a little bit.”

Now, I’m no glamazon model, but I know what Paulina is talking about. I’ve absolutely noticed a distinct drop-off in the amount of attention I get from the male persuasion. And it stings. Of course, back in “the day,” I mock-loathed the come-ons (and truly loathed stares and catcalls), but nowadays, just hearing a homeless man tell me I’m “not bad” makes it a banner day.

It’s oddly comforting to know that even world-famous supermodels have bad body image days, that they feel the pressures of aging and yearn for their younger, hotter days. One might argue they feel the pain even more deeply, as their entire careers have been based almost entirely on their looks. Oprah may have had a point when she teased Seymour for her 10-lb weight gain looking like the average woman’s dream body, but at the end of the catwalk, Tiegs, Brinkley, Johnson and Seymour are women, plain and simple. Gorgeous supermodels: They’re just like us!

What are your thoughts? Do you think models deal with the same body image issues as the rest of us? Chime in below!

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