Cindy Crawford’s Road To Success

Jun 09, 2021James Montalvo

When Cindy Crawford was a child, she had a traumatic experience that shaped the rest of her life. While her name and face are synonymous with high fashion and beauty today, it wasn't always like that. Her family once went through tremendous heartache, and it left her feeling helpless. Crawford could only sit and watch as her parents held back tears, trying to explain to her what was happening. Someone she adored fell ill, and it took a toll on her family. That feeling of helplessness inspired the supermodel to reach her goals, but it also came at a great personal cost …

Image Credits: Getty Images/PA Images/Neil Munns

TOASTING FOR LIFE

Cindy Crawford recently mourned the loss of her grandmother. The 55-year-old supermodel posted on her Instagram a series of beautiful photos with her grandmother along with a heartfelt post honoring her grandmother’s life. She described the life of her grandmother, Ramona Crawford, as “loving and meaningful.” Still, years before Cindy Crawford became a supermodel, she also experienced the loss of a loved one which eventually spurred her to fame.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Peter Kramer

YOUNG CINDY

Cindy Crawford, also known as Cynthia Ann Crawford, was born on the 20th of February, 1966. Crawford grew up in DeKalb, Illinois, near Chicago. Her father, John Dan Crawford, worked as an electrician while her mother, Jennifer Sue Crawford-Moluf, was a bank teller. Cindy has two sisters Danielle and Chris, and a little brother named Jeffrey, who became the main driving force of her career.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Ron Galella Collection/Ron Galella, Ltd.

JEFFREY CRAWFORD

Cindy's little brother, Jeffrey, suffered from an illness that Cindy couldn’t understand when she was young. As an 8-year-old girl, Cindy did not understand what the words “leukemia” and “terminal’ meant. But she knew that her little brother was ill. She just wasn't aware of the darkness that loomed over their family's heads. When their parents tried to explain little Jeffrey's situation, Cindy and her siblings couldn't grasp it. 

Image Credits: Unsplash/Max Goncharov/For Illustrative Purpose

DIFFICULT TO COMPREHEND

Cindy and her sisters were too young to understand the nature of their little brother’s sickness. Her little brother was diagnosed with leukemia when he was still a toddler. However, when their parents told them about their little brother’s condition, her parents didn’t use the word ‘cancer,’ the supermodel recalled. As a result, many people were unaware of the tragedy that Cindy’s family experienced. Cindy, in turn, tried everything to make little Jeffrey healthy again.

Image Credits: Unsplash/Annie Spratt/For Illustrative Purpose

DIFFICULT TIMES

Little Jeffrey’s sickness created a massive impact on Cindy’s upbringing and, eventually, the rest of her life. The Crawfords took a two-hour drive every day for months to take little Jeffrey to the hospital for his radiation treatment. The family was relieved when his sickness entered remission. What’s heart-wrenching is that it didn't last very long. Things were worse when it came back.

Image Credits: Instagram/cindycrawford

HOPING FOR A MIRACLE

Cindy’s parents placed little Jeffrey through several experimental treatments with hopes that he would be cured of his illness. Sadly, none of the treatments worked on the little angel. Jeffrey passed away when he was only three years old and left Cindy and the rest of her family heartbroken. But despite it all, Cindy cherished the special moments they had even though it was the darkest moment of their lives. We told you it was heart-breaking. 

Image Credits: Instagram/cindycrawford

TURNING PAIN INTO OPPORTUNITY

The loss of her little brother took a toll on Cindy’s family. But aside from that, the future supermodel also experienced another heartache. Four years after her brother passed away, her parents ended their relationship. This pushed the three sisters to shift their focus on their studies. In addition, as a single parent, Cindy’s mother had a difficult time making ends meet; this motivated Cindy to earn her own money.

Image Credits: Instagram/cindycrawford

NO WORK, NO PAY

Crawford needed to find a job to help her mother make ends meet. Her teenage jobs included cleaning and shucking corn on local farms. One summer of 1982, while Cindy was shucking corn on a nearby farm, she was spotted and photographed by a local news photographer. Cindy, during that time, was in high school, and she received positive feedback, which convinced her to take up modeling.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Ron Galella Collection/Ron Galella, Ltd.

STEPPING UP HER GAME

When Cindy decided to enter the world of modeling, the image of the ideal American model was different, to say the least. Cindy didn’t fit in the perfect mold, which was expected of a model. But this didn’t stop Cindy from pursuing modeling. Cindy entered the 'Look of the Year' modeling contest the following year, which was later renamed 'Elite Model Look.' She was only seventeen during that time.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Ron Galella Collection/Ron Galella

FIRST PAYING JOB

Crawford joined the Elite Model Management’s Look of the Year competition. She ended up finishing as the runner-up. This became her ticket to modeling gigs. Crawford got her first paying job while still in high school, and it was an advertisement. Sufficient to say, her figure and height were exactly what the advertisers were looking for. Coincidentally, her career became the reason why a few kids decided to play a joke on her.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Ron Galella Collection/Ron Galella

MEAN PRANK

Cindy became famous because of her beauty, which attracted a couple of mean girls in her school. In her sophomore year, some of her classmates decided to play a mean prank on her. Cindy was excited when she received a call from a local boutique offering her a gig. But her excitement disappeared when she found that it was only a prank from the kids at her school.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Gamma-Rapho/PONOPRESSE

THE LAST LAUGH

Cindy Crawford felt disappointed when she learned that it was only a prank call made by one of the kids at school who were jealous of her. Cindy received a call later that year from the same boutique, but it wasn’t a prank this time. It’s the real deal! They offered her an actual modeling gig! The mean girls must have been pretty shocked when they heard the news.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Ron Galella Collection/Ron Galella, Ltd.

A BEAUTY WITH A BRAIN

Many people think that you can’t be pretty and smart at the same time, but Cindy Crawford is proof that a person can have beauty and brains and be good at it. When Cindy started her modeling career, she continued her schooling. Despite the hectic schedule, Cindy ensured that she was a straight-A-student! She took multi-tasking to a new level. She even graduated as the class Valedictorian.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Ron Galella Collection/Ron Galella, Ltd.

BIG DREAMS

Because Cindy graduated as Valedictorian, the high school model landed an academic scholarship to Northwestern University. If that wasn't already impressive back then, her chosen field of study also took many by surprise. Her scholarship paved the way for her to pursue her then-dream profession, chemical engineering. Once again, however, the odds were not in her favor.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Michael Ochs Archives/Jim Steinfeldt

THE ODDS IF YOU’RE A LADY

When Cindy Crawford got accepted to Northwestern, she was pleased that she could study for her dream job, chemical engineering. But the odds were not in her favor since she’s a lady. Her excitement was replaced with disappointment when she was greeted with negative criticism. Her professor even singled out Cindy saying that she might be in the wrong class as her field of study was a male-dominant setting.

Image Credits: Getty Images/The LIFE Picture Collection

JUGGLING PRIORITIES

Talk about being the only rose among the thorns. Being judged like that only infuriated Crawford. Though as it turned out, college wasn't really in her cards either. She ended up dropping out as her modeling career started to take off.  She left school to work with one of Chicago's premier fashion photographers, Victor Skrebneski. While this wasn't part of her original plan, the project would last two years.

Image Credits: Getty Images/CORBIS/Vittoriano Rastelli

EAGER TO LEARN

Things did not go the Cindy had originally planned. In 1985, when she was 19, Crawford left for New York. Cindy‘s status as a model skyrocketed because of her eagerness to learn more about modeling. Just like how Cindy applied herself in school, she also used it in modeling. Cindy learned more about modeling thanks to the big-name photographers she worked with.

Image Credits: Getty Images/The LIFE Picture Collection

TV COMMERCIAL GIG

After dropping out of school, Cindy pursued a full-time career in modeling. Her first model gig was on a TV commercial for an Australian advertising campaign where Cindy licked off her mole just above her upper lip. Even though she was a full-time model and beginning to get famous, Cindy still had one speedbump to tackle, which was her mole.

Image Credits: Getty Images/The LIFE Picture Collection

A BEAUTY IMPERFECTION

As you probably already know, Cindy Crawford’s mole is what makes her look so iconic. Located above her lip is her beauty signature. An iconic signature that changed people’s perception of freckles and pushed other women to draw a fake mole on their faces to resemble the gorgeous model. But, the fashion industry used to treat Cindy’s mole as a nuisance and looked for ways to remove it from her pictures.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Pascal Le Segretain

HIDING HER MOLE

Cindy’s first photoshoots and magazine covers, her signature mole, were airbrushed out of the picture because it was considered an imperfection. They did this so that she would look like the other models. But Cindy didn’t want to look like other models and wanted people and the industry to recognize her “imperfection.” Soon, Cindy and her beauty mark became the talk of the town.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Ron Galella Collection/Ron Galella

THE UNCANNY RESEMBLANCE

Cindy’s beauty mark placed her on a pedestal in the modeling world. But aside from her beauty mark, industry insiders began to notice something. People started to realize that Cindy resembled a 1970s model named Gia Carangi, another modeling industry pioneer. Because both models bear striking similarities, the industry baptized Cindy the nickname, Baby Gia. Cindy loved the idea and the nickname because of her resemblance to Gia Carangi.

Image Credits: Getty Images/The LIFE Picture Collection

TAKING IT SERIOUSLY

Aside from her beauty and brains, another characteristic that people love about Cindy is that she takes her job seriously. The industry knows about her dedication to her work. Cindy gained a reputation because of her professionalism. Despite her modeling experience, she kept her feet on the ground, and this serious mindset became her main ingredient to success.

Image Credits: Getty Images/The LIFE Picture Collection

THE BIG APPLE

During her first three years in New York, Cindy was featured in 200 magazine covers (and counting) and was on her way to supermodel status. The mole which used to put off agents a few years earlier became her signature. Cindy’s professionalism as a model also contributed to her steady position as a model in the industry that’s always looking for something new.

Image Credits: Getty Image/CORBIS/Vittoriano Rastelli

MAGAZINE APPEARANCES

At the height of Cindy’s career, she became the most-talked-about celebrity. She’s a constant cover girl and was featured in some of the most prominent magazines in America, including Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Allure, Elle, and People. Aside from gracing the covers of the famous magazines, she has also walked the runway for high-end designers like Versace, Calvin Klein, Dolce and Gabbana, and Michael Kors. She alone made 500 impressive magazine appearances.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Ron Galella Collection/Ron Galella, Ltd.

LOVING HERSELF

While many supermodels of our time were slender and paper-thin, Cindy Crawford had a unique body type. So how did Cindy win the hearts of famous magazines? She learned how to love herself first. Her voluptuous body figure also became the new beauty ideal. The photographers she worked with also taught her to love her figure. As a result, she gained confidence and became proud of her toned rocking body.

Image Credits: Getty Images/The LIFE Picture Collection

ICONIC MODELS

Cindy wasn’t the only model who paved the way for what the modeling industry is today. But, she couldn’t do it all alone because she and other models like Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista also paved the way for today’s modeling industry. These gorgeous ladies appeared once in a music video along with their fellow models. The music video became iconic because of fashion and pop music.

Image Credits: Getty Images/The LIFE Picture Collection

THE TERM “SUPERMODEL”

In the 1980s, the term “supermodel” and “ideal woman” has evolved through the years. This term is also used to describe gorgeous women and highly paid fashion models with national recognition. Journalists and fashion designers began to use the word and started throwing the term around. But, the models weren’t happy about it. Even Cindy Crawford was not satisfied because the term sounded “ridiculous.”

Image Credits: Getty Images/Gamma-Rapho/Victor VIRGILE

YOUNG AND NAIVE

Cindy has a busy schedule, but she was never too late for love; perhaps she is too early because of the age difference between Hollywood actor Richard Gere. Cindy met him via a mutual friend at a barbecue that Herb Ritts hosted for Elton John. She was 21 during that time, while Gere was 38 and Cindy was the first to break the age barriers.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Dave Benett

AGE IS ONLY A NUMBER

Cindy Crawford was one of the first famous faces who broke the age barriers to love. In 1987, she and her lover, Richard Gere, met. The pair tied the knot, and they became the talk of the town because of their 15-year age gap in 1991 in a spontaneous wedding in Las Vegas. The couple instantly became Hollywood’s “It” couple.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection

BEST COUPLE OF THE YEAR

The couple became so popular that they were even given an award by PEOPLE magazine as the “Best Couple of the Year.” But unfortunately, the “Best Couple of the Year” didn’t last. Their whirlwind romance ended in 1995 after a few years of an unsuccessful marriage. Cindy admitted that she was trying so hard to impress him and pretended that they have the same interests.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Gamma-Rapho/William STEVENS

FINDING TRUE LOVE

Cindy was unlucky in love and had a string of failed marriages, but her luck in the love department turned around when she attended her agent’s wedding and met Rande Gerber, a former model. The two went off instantly and became friends. Soon, their friendship blossomed into a beautiful romance. The pair decided to tie the knot, but they decided they didn’t want an extravagant wedding.

Image Credits: Getty Images/BFC/Gareth Cattermole

BEACH WEDDING

Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber had the money to blow on an extravagant wedding. But the pair had something else in mind, and having a lavish and over-the-top extravagance is not their dream wedding. So the happy couple went for a laid-back wedding instead on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. Cindy wore a casual lace sundress and wore very light make-up. They even requested their guests to arrive comfortably.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Sebastian Artz

HER MINIATURE VERSIONS

The couple was happily married for over two decades, and it’s no surprise that the gorgeous couple would pass their good-looking genes to their two children, Kaia and Presley. The kids even decided in their mother's footsteps and embarked on their modeling journeys. The youngest, Kaia, has done shoots for Calvin Klein and Marc Jacobs, while their eldest, Presley, has worked with Dolce and Gabbana.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Pascal Le Segretain

PULLING STRINGS

Rumors also followed the success of her children in the modeling industry; Cindy’s family was not immune to it. She was first criticized when rumors began to circulate that she bought her daughter Kaia’s modeling career. The supermodel debunked the story and said that she used some of her connections in the industry to help her daughter, but she didn’t pay a dime on their modeling gigs.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Todd Williamson

PLANS ABOUT RETIREMENT

After almost three decades in the modeling industry, Cindy Crawford announced her retirement. Cindy explained that she had done everything and worked with A-list photographers and added that she couldn’t keep on reinventing herself. This made the media crazy, but Cindy Crawford explained that the headlines of her retirement were a bit exaggerated. She posted on her Instagram in 2016 that she’s not making any final statements about her retirement.

Image Credits: Shutterstock/Joe Seer

Cindy Crawford is proof that we can turn our pain into an opportunity. But, aside from that, she has set the standards that being a model doesn’t mean you need to be beautiful; you also need to embrace and love your imperfections, be smart, be humble, and be professional wherever you go. Loving your job and being eager to learn about it were her keys to success.

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