But let’s go back to where it all started. I’d love to share some history and fun facts.
I was born in The Netherlands. My parents were one very few interracial couples in our hometown.
We did not travel abroad for our summer vacations, but we did have family outings to the beach or in the forest. That’s me sitting to the right of my grandmother.
Looking at this photograph, you would think I knew that I was about to embark on a modeling career, but I honestly had no clue. My sister remembers feeling totally out of place, having to pretend she was painting. I show no sign of thinking it was weird.
As a former supermodel, I’m no stranger to the challenges many women encounter. Relationships, career, kids and the pressure of looking not just good, but younger than your actual age. Models do it all, while making it look effortless. Looking back now, the editors must have loved me in red. The truth is, I never wear red. It’s way too fiery for me. I prefer cooler colors. As for that picture on the top right for Oprah magazine, it brings up less than pleasant memories. While I was looking cool and collected on the set, my attorney was going all out in family court. It was one of those days where, well, “the show must go on.”
Growing up with domestic violence, I conditioned myself to be very much in tune with my external environment. I learned to tune out the things that did not serve me. To protect myself from the pain and the shame of living in that environment, I primarily identified with the ego. In other words, I lost touch with whom I really was. My personality (ego) overshadowed the real me. My mother referred to me as the strong fighter, the one who is stubborn and doesn’t give up. Consequently, I never allowed myself to be vulnerable.
I acted strong and vivacious. I became a very successful model. Life was exciting! I travelled the world. Tokyo, Paris, New York. I made a lot of money. I got married and had two beautiful children. Life seemed good until, suddenly, it wasn’t. When my marriage ended in divorce, I again went into survival mode. Just like my mother, I put the well-being of my children before everything else. This sounds heroic, but it did not come from a healthy place. I was conditioned to suck it up and be determined to move forward.
Thankfully, we live and learn. And if we don’t, life has a way of offering up more of the same. Interesting, right? I am so grateful for what I have learned on my journey, for it has led me to where I am today. But for years I was looking to change myself. Looking to somehow be a better person and to fit in like the rest of us seem to do so nicely. Thanks to my “stubbornness,” I finally figured it out. We are already perfect! Instead of allowing my external world to determine my actions, I learned to follow my internal values. If we do not live from our true nature, we’ll never truly find peace, no matter how outwardly successful we are. It is that simple.
Modeling was never important to me. Of course, I loved the travel, walking the runway in Paris and meeting interesting people. But I never thought of myself as being, as they used to say, “fabulous.” I was too busy figuring out how to be me. Looking back, modeling offered me a way out, an opportunity to find myself. It has led me to find my calling. Which reminds me, as a kid I used to love to play school, and of course, I always wanted to be the teacher. I guess I have come full circle. I now take great pleasure in being of service to those who wish to create, to grow, to improve, and to live their life purpose.
Truth be told
I love the real me! I love being older. Yes, you read that correctly. I love that middle age has given me the wisdom and ultimate opportunity to re-evaluate my life and decide what is most important, and what no longer needs to be a priority.
“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” -Maya Angelou
It’s never too late for change! (I should know. I earned my degree and made a career change at 51!)
Montclair State University: Graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelors Degree in Communication Studies, with a concentration in Public Relations and a Minor in Anthropology.
CDC College for Divorce Coaching®: CDC Certified Divorce Coach®
Worked as an international “Supermodel” for many years. Collaborated with the best creative talent in the industry such as Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, and Arthur Elgort among others for clients like American Vogue, Italian Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour Magazine and many more. Career covered print, runway and television commercials.
Highlights: American Vogue cover, Harper’s Bazaar cover, numerous Glamour Magazine covers, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and the notable “The Most Unforgettable Women” ad by Revlon.
Passionate about: Women’s empowerment, portraiture, documentary photography and film, nature, house plants, good food, good design, art, wellness & integrative health, spirituality and the ongoing quest for understanding the human psyche.
I am a photographer. I never thought I wanted a phone that could take pictures. Look at me now! Not bad for a cell phone, right?
Also, don’t forget to check out my blog featuring the “Women We Love” portrait series of everyday amazing women.
Museum guard watching me
I am watching you watching them
I love other people’s stories, every day people doing incredible things. My “directorial debut.” I loved this project, good people.