The supermodel talks injury, recovery, crazy diets, over-training, menopause ... and growing old disgracefully
She was once the highest paid model in the world and at 51 still has the glowing skin, enviable cheekbones and statuesque poise that keep the modelling contracts coming. She may be genetically blessed, but her battles with mood, food and injury have been hard won. We caught up with her to find out what keeps her glowing.
GTG: You’ve been at the top of your game for more than 30 years - how do you feel in your skin right now?
YLB: “I feel pretty good: calmer, less judgmental of myself. I feel that I could be stronger physically, but that will just take a little more work. I am learning to be patient and not push myself too hard. 51 sounds so old! I actually feel about 23 mentally.”
GTG: The average British woman enters menopause at 51. How do you manage symptoms?
YLB: “I take bioidentical hormones and have also addressed a thyroid issue which has really helped. But my mood was still dark. I started taking Lumity £79 , a health supplement that has a very subtle effect. A few weeks later my three daughters (Amber 26, Saffron, 24 and Tallulah 21) all commented on my calm state. My mood was so much brighter and my muscles, which are normally so painful have been less tense. Like everyone, pressure can get to me. I suppose I am very sensitive to my moods because really all I have ever wanted is to be a calm, graceful hippie, but with a more extensive wardrobe! Of course the reality is somewhat different. I'm more vocal than I ever used to be, but I'm a hell of a lot nicer. There are no magic pills, but we can sometimes really help ourselves in small ways.”
GTG: Have you become more nutritionally savvy since your early modelling days?
YLB: “I love food - always have. Many years ago I decided to become a vegan. I was living in New York and wasn’t really as together as you need to be if you are going to be a vegan. I collapsed one night in a bar and was rushed to a hospital. I later found out that I had malnutrition. Crazy! After that I have eaten everything. I believe in a little bit of what you fancy does you good. I really try to listen to my body. Sometimes I'll ease up on the wheat, sometimes it will be dairy. I don't believe in high fat or low fat diets, just balance. It's amazing what you can tell just by yourself.”
GTG: How important is exercise?
YLB: “I love action but it hasn't always loved me. I have over-trained and paid the price. To be honest, there was a time when I was probably fighting too much (I did Wing Chun - a Chinese martial art - for years) and I ended up in a lot of pain. I now take it easy, I don't do anything for long and I’m constantly moving from one exercise to another. My muscles like to switch on but not off, so I have to keep them twitching. I could go on for days about the mistakes you can make when training and the impact it will have on you later, but I should probably just let go of that.”
GTG: You were badly injured in a road accident in November last year. How did you recover?
YLB: “Amber and I were involved in a charity tuk tuk challenge in India and hit a pot hole (there is a good reason we all drive cars with four wheels). We slid sideways down the road on my left shoulder - and good as my Monsoon dress was, it couldn't save my skin. I broke my scapula and three ribs - the first bones I had ever broken. I honestly just felt lucky that Amber and I were alive. I didn't really care that I had damaged myself. To my astonishment, my skin healed really quickly. It could be all sorts of reasons: cleaning the wound really well, my DNA and taking Lumity I think.”
GTG: In three words, describe your parenting style.
YLB: “I don't think you can narrow it down to three words. Being a parent is the most rewarding, the most challenging and the most educating and enlightening experience. I just feel that we grow together. Maybe we are too close....is that possible? All I know is that I couldn't be described as distant. I'm probably more of an intrusive parent - you know, a pain-in-the-arse parent."
GTG: How has your skin changed over the years and how has the way you look after it evolved?
YLB: “I'm 51, my skin is changing daily. I have to be careful how I sleep. I have been known to have pillow face for a whole day. My routine is the same as it has always been. I have always cleansed and moisturised, but I like to try different products. I think a change can be as good as a rest with regards to skincare. I believe that what you put inside has the biggest effect. Eating well and working up a sweat at least once or twice a week will give you the boost you need. It allows you to process sugar, stress and helps balance your hormones. Being happy is what makes you glow. Skin is sort of irrelevant if you can't see the beauty around you.”
GTG: How do you care for your skin from the inside out?
YLB: “Take a good balanced supplement , eat food with good oil: almonds, avocado, olives. Also, disco dancing, singing and squishing my dogs, I have decided, is really good for you - so I have to do it. A lot!”
GTG: What’s your hero beauty product?
YLB: “ Red wine !”
GTG: You can’t fit that in your makeup bag! What are your go-to products?
YLB: “ Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micelle Solution makeup remover (£15.25/500ml), Chanel Le Volume De Chanel mascara (£125), Aurelia Probiotic Skincare Cell Repair Night Oil (£55/50ml), Creme de la Mer Genaissance De La Mer Serum Essence (£400 /30ml) - I was given some, it is amazing. I think I may have to remortgage the house for it though.”
GTG: You have experienced depression in the past. Do you still feel down now and then and how do you get yourself out of a slump?
YLB: “It is such a personal thing. I had got in to a deep dark hole yet again, but somehow managed to talk to a friend who encouraged me to see a therapist - a very good move indeed. I thought that I had been dealing with everything that life throws at you well, but I had been suppressing rather a lot. We all have such high expectations of ourselves and life and others. I now am so easy to please. I have lowered my expectations entirely.”
GTG: What are you like in the mornings?
YLB: “I love the morning, I feel like it is my most productive time, although getting out of bed has to now be negotiated delicately and putting socks on can't take place for at least ten minutes.”
GTG: What do you see when you look in the mirror?
YLB: “A beast!”
GTG: Self-confidence has been an issue for you in the past. How have you learned to manage it?
YLB: “We all have our moments - feeling prepared, or as much as is humanly possible helps. I use humour and I find a desire to feel a connection with people helps me. I know that really I can't do anything by myself, I am only as good as the people around me.”
GTG: Growing old gracefully or disgracefully?
YLB: “Disgracefully please! I fully intend to be the biggest pain in the arse if I make it to old age.”
GTG: You’re lucky/talented enough to have had a long career – what do you put it down to?
YLB: “I've always called the shots with regard to what I do - I'm self-employed after all. I was in the right place at the right time and was able and willing to focus. Before I knew it, I was married with kids and that was a huge motivation. I have just been lucky; I probably don't deserve any of it. But you know what? I really appreciate it all.”
GTG: How can we change the conversation about ageing?
YLB: “The older people get, the more interesting they become. What makes us human is our ability to tell stories. Celebrity needs to be more meaningful and less narcissistic. If we all recognised the wonderful characters in our lives, maybe the world would be a richer place with more meaning. Ageing should be celebrated in all walks of life.”
GTG: What does wellbeing mean for you and what counts as a really good day?
YLB: “Wellbeing is how you treat yourself. You can only really do good when you respect yourself. Being thoughtful and being kind is all that matters. Every day is a good day... until something rubbish happens. No, really, every day is a good day.”
GTG: What's the best thing about getting older?
YLB: “Not remembering how badly I've behaved.”