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Cindy Crawford Says Oprah Treated Her Like an Object in '80s Interview

The supermodel said in a new documentary that the way the host talked to her was "not OK."

The new docuseries The Super Models looks back on the lives and careers of four of the top models of all time: Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, and Christy Turlington. The women all got their start in the '80s and achieved enormous fame in the '90s. In the documentary, they reflect on their experiences, including their early days in the fashion world. Near the start of her career, Crawford appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, which certainly gave her more visibility—but today, she says that she felt objectified by the interview.

In The Super Models, the 57-year-old says that Oprah Winfrey treated her like "chattel or a child" during her 1986 debut. Read on to find out more.

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Crawford was 20 when she appeared on Oprah.

Cindy Crawford on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in 1986

In 1986, Crawford was a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show alongside controversial Elite Model Management founder John Casablancas. In a clip from the show, Winfrey says to Casablancas, "Did you have to groom her or did she always have this body? This is unbelievable. Stand up just a moment, because no one saw you come in standing up." At this, Crawford stands up." Winfrey says, "Now this is what I call a body. Very good, very good."

As the interview goes on, Crawford talks about leaving Northwestern University, where she was studying engineering, to focus on modeling. Winfrey also asks Casablancas questions about Crawford, with the model sitting right there.

"With Cindy, in terms of looks it was very easy," he explains. But, he adds, "She wasn't sure if she really wanted to model … For her, it was more a question of mental stability. She wanted to feel good and comfortable."

She feels that she was treated like an object.

Oprah Winfrey interviewing Cindy Crawford in 1986

As reported by HuffPost, in The Super Models, Crawford says of the interview, "I was like the chattel or a child, like be seen and not heard."

She continues, "When you look at it through today's eyes, when Oprah's like, 'Stand up and show me your body,' like show us why you're worthy of being here … In the moment I didn't recognize it. Only when I look back at it and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, that was so not OK really.' Especially from Oprah!"

Best Life has reached out to Winfrey for comment.

Winfrey has been criticized for other resurfaced interviews.

Oprah Winfrey interviewing Nathan Lane and Robin Williams in 1996
Harpo Productions

This is not the first time one of Winfrey's old interviews has been reconsidered in the wake of evolving attitudes. For instance, in 2021, people criticized an interview Winfrey conducted with Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen in 2004. Winfrey asked the then-17-year-olds about a rumor that Mary-Kate had an eating disorder. Ashley said that she and her sister tried not to pay attention to rumors because "people are just gonna write what they write." Winfrey then interjected and asked them what clothing size they wear. They talked around the question, saying that they'd always been petite and were under 5'2" tall.

Winfrey has also expressed regret over interviews herself. In 2021, she said on Rob Lowe's podcast, Literally! With Rob Lowe, that she regretted asking Sally Field if her ex Burt Reynolds slept "with his toupée on." She explained, "I asked it because the producers are like, 'You have to ask, you have to ask, you have to ask. That's what everybody wants to know.' And so I asked it, and she went cold on me. She shut down, and I could not get in again."

RELATED: Anjelica Huston Says Oprah Winfrey Has Been Giving Her the Silent Treatment Since the '80s.

Crawford and Winfrey worked together again.

Crawford's 1986 appearance on Oprah wasn't the last time she crossed paths with Winfrey. She appeared on Oprah's Master Class in 2013. Then, in 2014, Crawford hosted an episode of Oprah's Lifeclass.

Interestingly, one of the topics covered in the Master Class episode had to do with Crawford being judged for her appearance and treated as though she isn't worthy of being heard.

"Here I am, my first day at Northwestern, and my first day of calculus, I remember walked into class," she explained. "For some reason I caught the professor's eye, and he was like, 'Honey, I think you have the wrong class.' And that made me so mad, because it was really the first time in my life that I felt judged by the way that I looked."

She continued, "I think it set me on a course of, I have to prove to the world that I'm not that … I think it was really important to me, especially then, for people to hear what I have to say and to represent myself as someone who has a brain."

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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