|Christy Turlington Burns (credit)|
Wednesday's Woman: Christy Turlington Burns
By Anna Mahler
Christy Turlington Burns is an incredibly beautiful woman. She's a highly recognizable face backed by a very successful modeling career. But there is more to her than meets the eye, another side she is not as recognized for. She is also a mother and longtime advocate for preventable health and wellness. Her concern and compassion for women’s health issues have led her to become a film maker and activist for two important causes, both close to her heart.
After losing her father to lung cancer and conquering her own nicotine addiction, Christy began working to help educate others on the damaging health effects of smoking. In the late 1990's, she co-created anti-smoking public service announcements for MTV, presented at the SurgeonGeneral's first report on Women and Tobacco and in 2002, created the website Smoking Is Ugly.
The site provides resources for those trying to kick the habit, information on the health effects of smoking for women and Christy's own story of loss, her personal struggle to quit and what she's learned and gained.
Her more recent and possibly more well-known work is her 2010 documentary on maternal mortality around the world, No Woman No Cry and the creation of her organization for this cause, Every Mother Counts.
In 2003, Christy gave birth to a healthy baby girl at home. Her pregnancy and the birth of her daughter were both normal but shortly after delivery, she experienced PPH – Post Partum Hemorrage. While her midwife and obstetrician were able to manage this complication without a problem, Christy learned that PPH is the leading cause of pregnancy related death in the world, especially for those without access to pre and postnatal care, even here in the US.
While pregnant with her second child, Christy spent time traveling with CARE, a humanitarian organization dedicated to fighting global poverty with a special focus on working with women. With them, she was able to visit parts of Central America and Peru and saw firsthand some of the work being done to help lower maternal mortality rates in these areas.
Deeply effected and wanting to find a good way to share what she had seen and learned, Christy began working on her documentary, No Woman NoCry. The film includes women's stories from Tanzania, Bangladesh, Guatemala and the United States.
But more work lay ahead as Christy explained what caused her to start Every Mother Counts:
“The experience of making the film was life changing and thegeneral response since completing it has been validating in that it has proventhat the effort that went into it has been meaningful to so many. But bringingthese stories to those who previously didn’t know about any of these maternalhealth challenges was only a start. What is awareness if not harnessed andturned into action? At every screening I attended, people were asking what theycould do to help, how they could get involved. The issue was obviously touchinga nerve and I found that people were reacting exactly as I had hoped—like me.Once you know the facts, how can you ignore them? I wanted to create a placeothers could go to learn more and be a part of the solution.”
The web site for her organization provides detailed information on women's maternal health issues and ways you can help, from donations and fundraising to telling your story and supporting products that donate and support the cause as well. Information on the organization's progress is also included online including current information on goals, partnerships and work being done to help women around the world.
Christy Turlingtons' outer beauty is undeniable, but it is her compassion for other women and mothers and her desire to educate and help that is her real beauty to me, this is what makes her shine. That is what inspires me about her and why I choose her for Wednesday's Woman.