On January 2, 1969, Christy Turlington Burns was born in Walnut Creek, CA to a Pan Am pilot father and flight attendant mother. Today, she is considered one of the most beautiful women in the world, as well as a leading philanthropist. She first rose to fame in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a supermodel and has appeared on over 300 magazine covers to date. As the founder of the nonprofit organization Every Mother Counts, she is an important activist advocating for women’s health around the world.
Turlington Burns was first discovered by a local photographer when she was riding horseback in Miami, FL. He took some photos, which made their way to a modeling agency and she landed a contract with Ford Modeling Agency at age 14. She moved to New York City at 18 to pursue a full-time career as a model.
Turlington Burns along with Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, and Stephanie Seymour were considered the original supermodels, capturing the world’s fascination and admiration. Turlington Burns famously co-starred alongside many long-legged beauties in the George Michael’s “Freedom” music video. Some of her most famous fashion campaigns were for Maybelline and Calvin Klein.
Even though Turlington Burns made her living over the past 30 years as a model, she never felt it was going to be her career. She struggled with her lack of identity as a model. She shared in a recent interview with Forbes, “We were kind of always described as this pack. And I didn’t like that. I wanted to be an individual.” Looking to expand her horizons, she went back to school in 1994 to earn a college degree in comparative religion and Eastern philosophy. She graduated cum laude from New York University in 1999.
Her life’s passion as a women’s rights activist was inspired by a painful experience after the birth of her first child with husband Edward Burns, in 2003. She suffered from a postpartum hemorrhage, which she learned was the leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths for women around the world. She learned that 90 percent of these deaths could be prevented with better pre- and post-natal care like she received. To raise awareness, she made a documentary film about maternal health issues around the world named “No Woman, No Cry.” To further aid women in need, she founded Every Mother Counts in 2010. It is now one of the leading organizations dedicated to reducing preventable deaths related to childbirth around the globe.
Thank you to Christy Turlington Burns for using your platform to help less fortunate women around the world. Happy 48th!