Legendary supermodel Cindy Crawford may be a timeless beauty, but one thing she doesn't want to be called is "ageless."
"It puts too much pressure on me," Crawford, 56, told Haute Living. "I know all the ways that I've aged. My face has gotten much thinner; my mouth isn't as full. Being told I'm ageless isn't right, especially because getting older is hard enough, never mind that we live in a youth-obsessed culture."
That's why, Crawford explained, she has made sincere efforts with her skin care line, Meaningful Beauty, to empower other women to "embrace" all stages of their lives. That includes the "raw and the ugly, too," she says, "because it's real."
"I'm not 25, so why should I be trying to look 25?" she said. "Why do I want someone to mistake me for a 25-year-old? I've had children. I have all this life experience."
Over the course of her decades-long career, Crawford says the idea of aging has loomed over her.
"When I started modeling, I said, 'What am I going to do after I turn 25?' There wasn't someone who had a career like me before that I could follow or look up to," she recalled. "And then, all of a sudden, I was still modeling at 26, 27, 30, 35, 40, and now, 56. There was no way I thought I would still be 'modeling' to this day."
Still, that doesn't mean the pressures of aging haven't gone away. She just views it differently.
"Aging is what happens if we're lucky; it means that I'm alive," she explained. "I'm like an aging athlete. I know the game so much better, but I don't have a 20-year-old neck or whatever."
Another thing she views differently? What it means to be "age-appropriate," even on social media.
Crawford said she's empowered to share photos of herself because "you get to curate."
"Like, I look pretty good in this picture; I'm going to post it," she said of a July swimsuit post. "I'm probably at an age where I should be wearing one-pieces, but I've never worn one-pieces, and it's [the same kind of dilemma I have with my hair]. I've always had long hair; I wouldn't feel like me with short hair. And I'm kind of worried, like, 'oh, God. Am I going to have to cut it when I get a little older? Am I too old to have hair this long?' [Similarly], whenever I put a one-piece on, I don't feel like me. And there might come a point where I do have to wear one; I do have a few in my swimsuit drawer just in case it comes upon me one day."
Even though she isn't "in front of the camera" as much as she used to be ("nor do I want to be"), Crawford says she's never been more comfortable in her skin.
"I’m not 56 trying to do the same jobs that I did when I was 25 and 30," she said. "I've evolved, and the businesses that I have have evolved, too. I think that’s why I’ve had such career longevity, and why my audience will follow me — because it feels authentic and it is authentic.
"Sometimes I think, 'screw it. Maybe I don’t want to model anymore.' But then I think, 'gosh, then I’m just further telling women that at a certain age, we’re just expired, and we should go on the shelf. Do I want to play into that for women?' And so I don't," she continued. "Even though sometimes I don’t necessarily feel as confident, or if I see a pictures of me and there are things I don’t like, I still think yeah, but that’s real."
"Real" is a mindset, she says. Looking ahead, she plans on making it her new mantra.
"Life is life," she said. "And that’s something else I'm working on: not characterizing things as good or bad. It's just life, right? We tend to be like, 'life's so hard' or, 'life's so great'— but it's just life, all of it."
Wellness, parenting, body image and more: Get to know the who behind the hoo with Yahoo Life's newsletter. Sign up here.