Cindy Crawford has broken her silence on the “unretouched” photo of her that was leaked earlier this year. The supermodel spoke of feeling “manipulated and conflicted” by the leak and by the social media reaction to it.

Cindy Crawford

Photo: Cindy Crawford
Credit: PR Photos

The 49-year-old iconic 1990s supermodel was suddenly in the news in February for a most unfortunate reason. A photo, allegedly “unretouched” from a 2013 Marie Claire Mexico photo shoot (which you can see below) hit the Web and quickly went viral.

The story grew and was multifaceted as on one hand some women celebrated the revelation that this icon of of perfection had visible flaws. On the other hand, the photographer, John Russo, issued a written statement in part that the photo was “stolen or unlawfully accessed and then altered and distributed to the media.”

While we heard from everyone from the typical social media chorus to media commentators who cogitated over this and saw it as somehow a watershed moment in our society’s ongoing evolution of body image and body shaming, the person we did not hear from was Cindy Crawford herself.

Until now. In her cover story interview with ELLE Canada, she spoke of it for the first time, saying, “I felt blindsided.” She went on to say, “I was very conflicted, to be honest. The story had run a year and a half before, and the picture of me in that outfit was from the bust up. I know my body, and I know it’s not perfect, but maybe I have a false body image; maybe I think I look better than I do. I think that most women are hard on themselves. We think we look worse than we do.”

She continued, saying, “So I assumed I fell into that category, even though that picture didn’t reflect what I saw when I looked in the mirror — even in the worst dressing-room lighting.”

Crawford addressed the growing trend on social media which saw some actually celebrating the photo for its authenticity or its “realness.”

Of that, she said, “It put me in a tough spot: I couldn’t come out against it because I’m rejecting all these people who felt good about it, but I also didn’t embrace it because it wasn’t real – and even if it were real, I wouldn’t have wanted it out there.”

And she also spoke out about why she had been silent for so long, saying, “I felt really manipulated and conflicted, so I kept my mouth shut.”

Crawford admitted, too, that there was a reason for this embrace of “realness.” She said, “Sometimes, the images that women see in magazines make them feel inferior—even though the intention is never to make anyone feel less.”

Yes, an understatement. As statistics so often bear out, the “average” woman does not have anything close to the height, the measurements or the body weight of a supermodel. The “average” woman’s dress size has two digits, not one.

Crawford added, “So somehow seeing a picture of me was like seeing a chink in the armour. Whether it was real or not isn’t relevant, although it’s relevant to me. I don’t try to present myself as perfect.”

The full interview is online and you can see it here as Cindy Crawford speaks on other topics including her brief marriage to and divorce from Richard Gere in the early 1990s. Billed as 12 life lessons, her “unretouched” photo was summed up as “When life blindsides you, find a teachable moment.” And yes, it has been that both for her and for the rest of us. Pictures of Cindy Crawford including the ELLE Canada cover are below.

All hail the queen. #ELLECanadaCindy

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