Supermodel Christie Brinkley proves that living well goes beyond good looks.
By Gerry Strauss
Photo by Anna Gunselman
Christie Brinkley just might be more gorgeous than ever. Her new book, Timeless Beauty: Over 100 Tips, Secrets, and Shortcuts to Looking Great, seems to suggest that she has done everything in her power to rail against the effects of aging. But, according to the 61-year old model, actress, author, and philanthropist, that’s not exactly accurate.
“It’s funny, in writing my book, I was going back through some old interviews looking for material and I came across an interview where I literally must have been 19 or 20,” she says. “According to the interview, I said, ‘I can’t wait to get old so that I’m not judged by my looks and I can just do what I want without the looks being the first thing that people focus on.’”
For Brinkley, it’s never been about the looks––not entirely, anyway. Obviously, her enduring beauty has helped her gain worldwide success as a model and pop-culture personality, but she’s always made it a point to be so much more than that. Her charismatic personality, her well-publicized marriages (most notably to Billy Joel for almost a decade), her charity work, and even her comedic chops (namely her iconic role in National Lampoon’s Vacation and her memorable stint on Parks and Recreation) prove that Brinkley is more than just a pretty face. Indeed, Brinkley’s multi-faceted career has elevated her beyond supermodel status and made her relevant to a wide variety of fans spanning many generations.
“When I started, people would say to me, ‘This business will chew you up and spit you out by the time you’re 30,’” she recalls. “But 60 is the new 30 now. I’ve been very lucky to be right in the middle of the Baby Boomers’ push to demand ways to look better and feel better. We’re the generation that has embraced daily exercise and good nutrition and we’re the generation that’s reaping the benefits from that. I don’t think that the numbers mean as much as they used to, they really don’t.”
Brinkley’s continued vibrancy and radiance comes from staying healthy and finding ways to reinvent herself by entering uncharted territory. “At 57 years old, I was asked to play the part of Roxie Hart in Chicago on Broadway, despite the fact that I didn’t know how to,” she says. “I wasn’t a professorial singer, dancer, or actress, but I jumped at that chance and I ended up playing Roxie Hart for the better part of the next two years with both my initial run on Broadway and a return engagement on Broadway. I played her in London. I then headlined the national tour. That was a opportunity that I could have never even dreamt of.”
Then there are Brinkley’s business ventures. She’s launched a variety of brands that she truly believes in, such as Christie Brinkley Authentic Skincare. By become the face of her own anti-aging products, Brinkley committed herself to creating healthy, eco-friendly products that work––not just for her, but for women around the world.
“I specifically wanted this line to be for women my age who are really out there living life to the fullest,” she says. Brinkley points to her own life as an inspiration for many of the products in her Authentic Skincare line. “I am an outdoor girl; I just came back from sailing in the Mediterranean. There’s no escaping the sun when you’re on a boat. My skin is put to a daily grind but I’ve got to still have it looking good when I’m back here and doing my modeling jobs, my various appearances, and stuff like that.”
Brinkley explains that her skincare line works with biorhythm. “When you are sleeping, your skin is in a repair cycle and we really target that with specific peptides and it’s very modern and very exciting. It’s anti-aging, it’s vegan, it’s cruelty free, and it’s delivered in environmentally sensitive packaging. Eco-chic packaging––it looks like sea glass and it’s really beautiful, so I’m really proud of it.”
Beyond the surface, Brinkley also makes sure to adhere to a functional fitness routine. However, she doesn’t necessarily stick to any one regimen for too long. “I think that in order to stay interested you constantly have to be introducing variety into your routine, because the second it becomes routine it risks getting boring,” she says. Right now, she’s into biking, which she mixes up with watersports like stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking. She also likes to get in a brisk run, when possible. “I really do love being outdoors doing things as much as possible, but I switch it up and I’ll go to dance class or Zumba. I just think that if you make it fun, then you’ll really do it,” she says.
Of course, fitness goes hand-in-hand with diet, and Brinkley has her own unique philosophies on what one should or should not be eating. “I think when people see the label low fat they think that it’s healthy,” she says. However, Brinkley warns that the ingredient that everyone should be on the lookout for is the sugar content. “Every day we learn more and more about how bad sugar is for you towards causing diseases and inflammation, which is also a root cause of lots of illnesses. I think looking for the sugar content is more important then the fat content.” Avoiding processed food is very important too and Brinkley thinks it’s essential to have an awareness of the food one eats. She’s also leery of Frankenfood (aka genetically modified foods). “I don’t like the idea of the foods being altered and not knowing what’s in them. With GMOs, I think we all need to be active online and sign every petition that says, ‘We want labeling.’ We want to know,” says Brinkley.
Aside from exercise, diet, and skincare, Brinkley indicates a positive outlook on life contributes to living well. Although she’s appeared on more than 500 magazine covers worldwide and enjoyed much success, Brinkley continues to count her many blessings and is appreciative of each day. “I just have an awareness of gratitude throughout the day,” says Brinkley, who points to the expression, “Bloom where you’re planted,” as a guiding principle. “I really believe that no matter what’s going on in your day, no matter how busy it is, if you stop to just think about what you’re grateful for, that it goes a long way in improving your outlook and your attitude and your health and well being.”
With the release of Timeless Beauty: Over 100 Tips, Secrets, and Shortcuts to Looking Great (her first book in over 30 years), Brinkley is excited for her fans to finally read the results of her labor. She has high hopes for the project––not just in sales terms, but also the effect that it may have on readers. “I’m hoping that it helps women feel good about themselves and feel confident in knowing that everything they need is inside them already,” she says. “I want women to just enjoy their life to the fullest and understand that sense of enjoyment is as useful as anything that they can buy to put on their face. It’s in their hearts, it’s in their spirit, and as soon as they relax and just start celebrating that spirit and laughing more, that’s the most radiant they will ever be.”