CHRISTY TURLINGTON BURNS has revealed why she stepped back from modelling at the height of her career to pursue her studies. The supermodel enrolled to study Comparative Religion and Eastern Philosophy in New York in 1994, walking away from the fashion industry while contemporaries like Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell were still at the peak of their career.
“I thought about it for a long time, and I guess I really haven’t fully given modelling up, but in my mind I did, because I went back to school and moved on in my life,” Turlington Burns told fellow model Iman for an interview with Humanity magazine. “I remember somebody telling me that they were in a location van and they saw me walk by with my backpack, and they were like, ‘Oh, poor thing.’ And I’m thinking – ‘Poor thing? I’m getting my education, you fools.’
But I remember thinking about it. I think I had finally quit smoking and had gained some weight, and I was in Paris for the couture shows and I remember that moment when I thought, ‘You know what, I’m doing something healthy for myself, and they’re judging me and I don’t want to subject myself to it anymore.’ And it’s such an empowering feeling when you can make that choice.”
The two models also discussed balancing family and work, for which Iman had some sage advice.
“I usually cook at home, you know, watch a movie with David after our daughter goes to bed, so yeah. But you have to. It’s so important,” she said. “You want a career? Do that first. You don’t want to have kids? Then don’t. You don’t want to get married? Then don’t. But once you do something, you’ve got to know that there is compromise.”
Iman – who turns 60 next month and has been in the industry since the Seventies while she was still at university – also spoke about the treatment she has experienced over the years from fellow Muslims, and how she deals with their criticism of her choices.
“We never wore burkas because Somalis had our own culture. We adopted Islam, but the world has changed,” she revealed. “I’m always criticised by other Somalis and Muslims for what I’m doing as a model and married to a white man and all that. They all say, ‘You’re going to hell,’ and I’m like, ‘Well, don’t worry about it, that will be me, why do you worry? You shouldn’t lose sleep over me. Really, please don’t worry. That will be between me and God, don’t worry about me.'”