Secrets to Your Success: Christy Turlington Burns

Christy Turlington Burns, model and founder of Every Mother Counts, says, "You don't have to be a mother to care about mothers. We've all come into the world the same way." Christy believes every woman should have the chance to survive childbirth.

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Growing up, Christy and her older sister rode horses every day after school. At the end of their lesson one day, a photographer approached Christy's mom and asked if she had thought about having her daughters model. Christy began modeling for Vogue when she was 16, which she says quickly took her from a department store ad to the fashion world.

Over the years, Christy appeared on the cover of every major fashion magazine and in ads for Calvin Klein and Maybelline. Not knowing how long she would model, Christy says she took advantage of the job. "I sort of fell into this career as a model," she explains, "and I felt like it's going to allow me to do other things."

Christy began to use her fame to advocate for causes that were important to her. She started working on maternal health after giving birth to her first child. Christy's daughter was born in 2003 after what she thought to be a routine labor and delivery, but after giving birth, Christy began to hemorrhage. She had a retained placenta that she says was both painful and scary. "But it wasn't like I felt that I wasn't in the right place to get the care I needed," she says. Later, Christy discovered that the same complication caused thousands of deaths every year.

Christy began traveling to third world countries with humanitarian group CARE to further explore the problem of maternal health. "I looked around this community with no paved roads, very poor quality water, tin-roofed houses, no electricity," she says. "I thought about my complication in that environment, and I would have died."

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Inspired by what she saw on her travels, Christy decided to make a documentary. "No Woman, No Cry" was released in 2010. Christy wanted to put faces and powerful stories to the statistics. She knew people would care if they could get these stories in front of a large audience.

After making the film, Christy launched Every Mother Counts, a non-profit organization whose mission is to end preventable deaths in pregnancy and childbirth around the world. She says Every Mother Counts was created to give people a chance to participate, to share their stories, and to join a movement.

"I'll be a mom for as long as I'm alive on the planet," says Christy, "so I figure being an advocate for other moms is a meaningful pursuit." Christy thinks of her children as her legacy and explains we "stand on the shoulders of our mothers or our fathers" and try to be better than our parents. Christy says, "I hope my kids surpass me and my actions."

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