Christy Turlington: Born This Way

Elle, 2011


Proving that her preternatural beauty runs deep, Christy Turlington—model, mother, documentarian—has set out to make the world a safer place to be born.

When Christy Turlington Burns set her mind to doing good, she didn’t just throw money at a PR-friendly cause or host the odd fundraiser to earn herself the title of philanthropist. On the contrary, when Turlington learned that, globally, 500,000 women die in childbirth each year—and that 90 percent of their deaths are preventable—she embarked on a master’s degree in public health at Columbia University, directed and self-financed No Woman, No Cry, a documentary about the global maternal mortality rate (MMR), and launched a nonprofit,, to raise public awareness. Such full-tilt absorption is all the more unusual given that, at 42—more than twice the age of many of today’s top models—she’s still doing rather well in her day job, with recent campaigns ranging from Louis Vuitton to Maybelline.

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