First, can you tell us a little bit about the Sports Illustrated anniversary issue that was released last week?
“50 Years of Beautiful” is the title. I did the 25th anniversary issue, and now I’m in the 50th anniversary issue. There were only 31 of us [cover models] over 50 years. It’s a very small group. I am so flattered to be part of that group because, who knows why? Nobody knows. Everybody goes on the photo-shoot trip hoping to get the cover, but nobody knows why or when or how they get it.
In fact, believe it or not, Kim Alexis was on the cover until two days before it went out to press. They pulled her cover and put mine. I don’t know why. Her cover was gorgeous, and she was another blonde. Maybe they were tired of blondes? I don’t know. When you look at the film for our shoot it’s like 25 blondes and four brunettes.
It was so much fun to be in a room of that many accomplished women and to know that somebody felt I belonged there for whatever reason.
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Hair and makeup by Jess Fodor.
I actually asked to lecture the models. The industry kind of turned me down, and I was disappointed in that. There are many girls that are way too thin, and they can stay thin if they’re treating themselves well. I think that’s very important. At the shoot, a lot of girls asked me [about my lifestyle]. When you see models in person, it’s a whole different story [from in magazines]. In pictures everybody’s retouched. You don’t know what’s real. People look at you in person without your makeup on and they can tell that nothing [cosmetic] has been done.
Speaking of retouching, I know post-production effects have changed a lot in the past 25 years. How was it when you were modeling?
It was called airbrushing, but it left a shadow. So, if they wanted to make me thinner in a picture and they airbrushed it, you would see the shadow. Everybody knew, so it was not sneaky at all. When I did Playboy for my 49th birthday, I wanted to show that I would not be here and I would not look like this if it hadn’t been for raw food. Part of my contract with Playboy – and it’s not about being naked because I’m not that kind of person, and I’ve never been naked [for a shoot] in my life – was no retouching. [With Photoshop] they can do anything. They can stretch your legs; they can stretch your body to the Barbie body. I’m not built that way. I have little tufts and wrinkles, and I wanted everything to be shown in a nice light. But, I still wanted people to know that was a real woman, a real body.
It’s been that way throughout my entire career because we didn’t have this kind of retouching way back when. They couldn’t lengthen my legs, they couldn’t make my body anything else without that showing. It’s pretty incredible what they can do today. It has given a very false image to women out there, even myself. I look at magazines today. I compare myself — you can’t help it — to an unfair standard that doesn’t exist. I think that’s a real travesty in the industry because what women have to do to be a size zero or a size two at 5’11” is beyond horrible. I know what I went through. I’d never wish that on anybody. That’s why I do what I do to keep people from making the mistakes I did.
Yeah, since I was 34 years old. 1996. I’ve never looked back. I have too much information; I can’t turn back. Every day I say thank you to God and the universe for conspiring to bring me this information because it’s changed my life, and it’s given me a purpose.
What did you find when you changed your diet? How did it alter your energy levels?
I could eat for the first time in my life, and not just eat, but eat guilt-free. I’m a model; I was starving myself to lose weight. In fact, I’d eat a potato and I’d gain weight. When I started eating raw food, I realized I could eat as much as I wanted, whenever I wanted, as long as it was prepared in the right way for my body. My body could utilize it, get rid of what it didn’t need, use what it could, and I could maintain my weight.
I felt so happy. I felt guilt-free to be able to eat without worry, and immediately my energy came back. But, my countenance also changed. People came to me and said, “What did you do? Get a facelift?” Even my mother said, “Carol, what did you do to your face?” And, I was like, “What do you mean?” She said, “You were starting to look like a normal girl with lines and wrinkles. What did you do?” I said, “Botox” and laughed. I said that I changed how I ate, and my mother after that moment changed how she ate, because she saw what it had done to my face over a couple of months. It was incredible.
People would ask how long it would take [to feel the benefits]. I was so bad off in that moment that detoxing was a step up for me. I tell people that once you get past the detoxing phase – because the detoxing phase is different for everybody – it could be a week, two weeks, two months – but once you get past that phase, there’s no turning back. You soar; your energy changes; how you feel about your body and how you feel in your own skin changes.