"Cindy Crawford in her underwear is the most terrifying thing I've seen this year."

There is nothing empowering about Cindy Crawford’s questionable stomach. Not even a little bit.

UPDATE 3/3/15: After the uproar about Cindy Crawford’s “inspiring” tummy, the photographer who took the picture (which you can see below) has said that it is a fake.

John Russo, who took the picture for Marie Claire Mexico back in 2013, has released a statement saying:

“It has been falsely claimed that this photograph represents an un-retouched image of Cindy Crawford. This is not true,” Russo’s statement said. “It is a fraudulent altered version of my photograph. I am grateful that this fact has been brought to the public’s attention and that corrections are being run in the media.”

Thanks for clearing that up, John. But that news does not make us feel better about our own tummies. Not even a little bit.

Last month, Mamamia wrote: 

Cindy Crawford‘s untouched underwear photo scares the shit out of me. There, I said it. The world’s most gorgeous supermodel is all over the Internet, unretouched, in some sexy, black lingerie, a hat and some feathers.

Like this:

And the Internet is awash with praise. Cindy Crawford, you see, is #sobrave

She is showing the world what a real over-40s body looks like, when you throw out the airbrush and embrace your stretch marks. She is inverting our ideas about what’s beautiful, and sexy, and magazine-worthy.

As Charlene White, the UK journalist who shared the image said, “”I thought I would tweet the picture because I found it incredibly empowering to see someone as beautiful and iconic as Cindy Crawford in her natural form.”

Really, Charlene? Really? Let’s not get carried away here. This photo of one of the world’s most beautiful women is not revolutionary, it is not progress, it is not empowering.

In fact, there are two absolutely terrifying things about it.

Read more: What happened when I used a full-body picture on a dating website.

For a start, it’s a leak. When it first circulated on Twitter, White flagged the photo as being part of a shoot for Marie Claire, but according to the magazine, it was actually taken during a cover shoot in 2013 and released, unauthorised online. Marie Claire, mindful of being body-positive, have been measured in their response.

“No matter where the photo came from, it’s an enlightenment—we’ve always known Crawford was beautiful, but seeing her like this only makes us love her more.”

In that context, it’s a violation. Cindy Crawford did not consent for the world to see her like this, with bad lighting and a patchy spray tan. She may nor may not be delighted about the response to it, but her husband obviously felt the need to set the record straight, because on Valentine’s Day, the same weekend as the modelling shot invaded your newsfeed, Rande Gerber posted this pic on Instagram, captioned: “She got flowers and I got her. Happy Valentine’s Day @CindyCrawford.”

But the other reason I feel like putting the cork back in the bottle is a more personal one, and it’s this: Yes, Cindy Crawford is 48. She is absolutely, drop-dead gorgeous. She was gorgeous at 19 when she started modelling, and she’s gorgeous now.

She’s  a model who’s sustained her career over 30 years, she’s a businesswoman, a mother of two and a philanthropist who has just featured in a documentary about a flying eye hospital for the disadvantaged in Peru.

But Cindy Crawford is a model. She is a woman who, by her own admission, pays an enormous amount of attention to her body, her looks and her health. It’s her livelihood.


In 2006, Cindy said that she’d started having cosmetic procedures at 29.

“I’m not going to lie to myself,” an honest Cindy told Gala Magazine. “Past a certain age, creams work on the texture of your skin but, in order to restore elasticity, all I can really count on is vitamin injections, Botox and collagen.”

Last year, to E! Online, she talked with misty-eyed nostalgia about the 1990s – a decade when she allowed herself to EAT PASTA. “Remember back in the ‘90s when people thought that a big bowl of pasta was a low-calorie option? Those were the days! Today, eating that is like eating a sundae,” she said.

Some moments from Cindy’s brilliant career (Post continues after gallery):

And in Marie Claire, last month, she gave us a glimpse into the daily discipline it takes to look like Cindy C, the kind of woman Prince writes songs about. “I can’t really drink wine anymore. Sometimes, not every time, it makes me puffy. Last night, we were out for dinner and I did not have a glass of wine. I had a glass of tequila—because that doesn’t make me puffy.”

Cindy Crawford spends a lot of time and money on her body. She exercises hard (that’s how she got rid of the stomach she referred to as a ‘shar pei’ after her children were born). She gets vitamin injections, eats a restricted diet, and gets complicated cosmetic procedures to protect her skin’s elasticity.

And still, with all that effort, all that hard work and expense, still Cindy is not “perfect” enough.

Many women who share a decade with Cindy’s, myself included, do not do these things. They do eat pasta. Sometimes, a big bowl. And cheese, too. Often, I have dessert. Yes, I’m sure it makes me “puffy”, along with the salt I put on my food and the wine that I drink. They exercise when they can. They try to eat vegetables. They drink wine sometimes. Yes, even if it makes them “puffy”.

Read more: How I learned to love my fat, naked body. 

If Cindy Crawford’s unretouched body is so shockingly imperfect that it broke the Internet, imagine what would happen to pictures of the real, “real” bodies of women in their 40s?

The bodies of women who, unlike Cindy, do not devote their lives to beauty, and have become adept at avoiding full-length mirrors, underwear that doesn’t offer support and swimwear selfies. Women like me.

Sorry, but the enthusiasm for a look at Cindy’s stomach does not mean that we are embracing ‘real’ bodies, ‘ageing’ bodies or, ‘wrinkly’ bodies. It is not empowering, it’s pervy.

It means that there is novelty value in seeing a beautiful woman look less than perfect – a fact borne out by every ‘Stars without make-up’ magazine cover ever.

And it means that, as a culture, we are so used to seeing images of women, of all ages, airbrushed to within a nano-inch of perfection, we pounce on any crumbs of “reality” we’re offered.

The only 40+ women’s bodies we want to see are the ones that look like 20+ women’s bodies. Anything else is a titillating novelty. But a “real”, real 40-something body in underwear? That would be truly terrifying.

Let’s revel in how gorgeous Cindy Crawford is, was, always has been. Everybody, it’s George Michael’s Freedom.

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