Cindy Crawford calls out Oprah Winfrey for treating her like ‘chattel’ in old interview

Cindy Crawford has called out Oprah Winfrey over their 1986 interview, in which the TV host asked the supermodel, who was 20 at the time, to show off her body to the cameras.

Crawford, now 57, reflects on the interaction in a new documentary on Apple TV+ titled The Super Models, which spotlights the careers of modelling stars Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington and Crawford, who rose to fame in the late Eighties.

In a clip shown in the documentary, Winfrey is heard introducing the then-aspiring model to The Oprah Winfrey Show before she asks: “Did she always have this body? This is unbelievable. Stand up just a moment, now this is what I call a BODY.”

Crawford, who was accompanied by John Casablancas, a representative from Elite Modelling Agency, then sheepishly stood up before the studio audience to show her figure.

Reflecting on the moment in the new documentary, Crawford said: "I was like the chattel or a child, be seen and not heard.”

“When you look at it through today’s eyes, Oprah’s like, ‘Stand up and show me your body. Show us why you’re worthy of being here.’”

Crawford added: “In the moment I didn’t recognise it and watching it back I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that was so not okay really.’ Especially from Oprah.”

The Independent has contacted Winfrey’s representatives for comment.

Cindy Crawford appearing on the Oprah Winfrey show in 1986 (Apple TV+)
Cindy Crawford appearing on the Oprah Winfrey show in 1986 (Apple TV+)

Elsewhere in the clip, Winfrey asked Crawford’s representative several questions, including whether Crawford had been put through a “training period”, to which Casablancas responded: “With Cindy, it was much more psychologically she was not sure she really wanted to model… she didn’t see her potential as clearly as we did… for her it was more a question of mental stability.”

“Little by little, her ambition is growing.”

Casablancas added: “I’m saying it now on this program, if she wants to she can be number one in the business.”

The moment Cindy Crawford is asked to ‘stand up’ by Oprah Winfrey on the presenter’s chat show in 1986 (Apple TV+)
The moment Cindy Crawford is asked to ‘stand up’ by Oprah Winfrey on the presenter’s chat show in 1986 (Apple TV+)

Elsewhere in the documentary, fellow supermodel Naomi Campbell reflected on the racism she faced early on in her modelling career.

She shared a specific experience when she and Turlington were getting into a taxi cab, and the driver appeared to assume that she lived in Brooklyn because she was a Black woman.

“I would put my hands out many times on New York City streets, and the taxis would fly by,” Campbell recalled. “Then Christy would put out the hand and they would stop. The guy would be like: ‘I don’t want to go to Brooklyn,’ and I’m like: ‘I’m not going to Brooklyn.’

“I was just like, why is he saying that? It didn’t strike me until, you know, Christy would have to stand out in front of me, get me a taxi to get it to work.”

This isn’t the first time that Campbell has opened up about the racism she faced at the start of career. In a personal essay for CNN Style, published in 2021, she said she “wasn’t being booked for certain shows because of the colour of [her] skin”.

“For whatever reason, those designers simply didn’t use Black girls; I didn’t let it rattle me. From attending auditions and performing at an early age, I understood what it meant to be Black,” she wrote. “You had to put in the extra effort. You had to be twice as good.”

The Super Models is now streaming on Apple TV+