As well as being a mother, writer, yogi, advocate and model, Christy Turlington Burns is living proof that giving is beautiful. In 2010 she launched Every Mother Counts, a non-profit organization dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for mothers worldwide. The same year, she also directed a documentary about maternal mortality, called No Woman, No Cry.
At the height of the ’80s Christy Turlington was a member of an extremely glam – and elite – group of gorgeous women known as the “supermodels”. Physical perfection and a glamorous lifestyle went hand in hand. But with nearly 30 years in an industry built on beauty, these days Christy Turlington Burns is focusing on maintaining a balanced life, and giving back. Philanthropy and service, education and charity have long been important parts of Christy’s life. In 2010 she launched Every Mother Counts, a non-profit organization that is working to reduce the number of women who die due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth (see box on facing page). In 2013, Christy directed the documentary film Every Mile, Every Mother, which explores Every Mother Counts’ participation in long-distance running to highlight distance as a barrier for women to receive quality care. She is also the busy mother of two children – Grace, 12, and Finn, 9 – and is married to filmmaker Edward Burns. ‘Becoming a mom has made me appreciate being a woman above and beyond anything else,’ she told Parenting magazine. ‘I think the best thing about being a woman is that we have this unlimited capacity to give and to love – an incredibly empowering realization. What breaks my heart is that not every woman and girl will realize this in her lifetime. My wish is for every girl, every woman and every mother to be empowered, to care for herself and to care for her family to the best of her ability.’
EVERY MOTHER COUNTS
Every Mother Counts is a non-profit organization working to reduce the number of women who die due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth. It does this by raising awareness and educating audiences about the fact that even in the 21st century, these deaths still take place, and up to 98% of them are preventable. Its goal is to inspire every individual it reaches to get involved and take action. Whether that is raising awareness through social media, running, volunteer events, or even buying a product that generates a donation. The organization is based on the belief that actions speak louder than words and that by taking action it can raise both awareness and resources for women who need help. Funds raised through individual donations and product partnerships go into programs that directly impact one of three critical barriers to maternal health: lack of education, transportation and supplies. Every Mother Counts is currently active in several countries around the world – including the US, Tanzania, Haiti, India, Uganda and Nepal – and supports nine different programs. (everymothercounts.org)
At Every Mother Counts we believe that actions speak louder than words and that by taking action we can raise both awareness and resources for women who need our help
FOCUSING THE MIND AND BODY
Christy has said that she had always intended to go back to school, and at 26, she knew she was ready. ‘So I just did it. It was the best thing I ever did, and it gave me so much self-knowledge. It allowed me to see that I could do whatever I wanted to do going forward.’ In 1999 Christy graduated from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Studies, where she earned a BA in Comparative Religion and Eastern Philosophy. Christy uses yoga, meditation and Ayurveda to help her find that all-important balance in life – both physical and mental. ‘Through my practice of yoga I was drawn to Ayurveda, and also to things that are generally better for me,’ she has said. ‘My diet, and also the way that I respond to the world and the world to me, has gradually changed. ‘I went to my first yoga class at 18. I admired the discipline and focus. I decided I wanted that positive focus in my life to help me cope with the erratic lifestyle my career perpetuates. It was, and remains, an invaluable source of energy and inspiration for me, and all of my efforts in life, both personal and professional.’
As a result of her global advocacy work Christy was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in 2014, Glamour magazine’s Woman of The Year in 2013, and one of Fast Company’s Most Creative Minds in 2013. Her challenge is to keep her personal and professional lives in balance, while fulfilling her mission to make a lasting impact on the world. What an inspiration!