Christy Turlington Burns: What It Means To Be An “Unordinary Woman”

Christy Turlington BurnsPhoto Credit: Courtesy of Lafayette 148 New York

Christy Turlington Burns is no ordinary woman. The fashion icon has made it her mission to advocate for maternal health. She even founded the non-profit Every Mother Counts in a bid to make dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother, everywhere. Her latest effort is Lafayette 148 New York‘s #UnordinaryWomen campaign, which launched earlier this spring, and tells the stories of seven bold, courageous women of vision who have seen beyond the moment to inspire and change lives over the past year. Those seven women include Turlington Burns herself, as well as Syra Madad, Sr. Director System-wide Special Pathogens Program NYC Health + Hospitals;
Sade Lythcott, CEO of The National Black Theatre and Chair of the Coalition of Theaters of Color; Karen Cahn, tech entrepreneur and founder & CEO of IFundWomen, a crowdfunding platform which provides debt-free capital to women-owned businesses; Paola Mendoza, an activist, author and co-founder of the Women’s March, whose work honors the experiences of women and immigrants; Dr. Helen Ouyang, a frontline hero, ER doctor and author whose article in the New York Times magazine helped us all understand the impact of the pandemic; and Karen Boykin-Towns, a civil rights champion and Vice Chairman, NAACP National Board of Directors.

Here, we chatted with Turlington Burns about her desire to give back, her recent campaign and what it means to be an unordinary woman.

 Christy Turlington Burns Photo Credit: Lafayette 148 New York

Tell us about your organization, Every Mother Counts. What inspired you to launch your own foundation?

I founded Every Mother Counts in 2010 as a campaign to raise awareness about the global state of maternal health after making a documentary film called, No Woman, No Cry. I became a global maternal health advocate the day I became a mom. After delivering my daughter I hemorrhaged and learned after that that was a leading cause of maternal mortality, globally and here in the U.S. That experience led me on the path I am on today and is why I am so committed to ensuring equitable access to safe and respectful maternity care for all.

You recently partnered with Lafayette 148 New York for their #UnordinaryWomen campaign. Could you tell us a bit about that partnership? How does Lafayette 148 New York’s values align with that of Every Mother Counts?

I was thrilled to have Every Mother Counts featured in Lafayette 148’s campaign this year and honored to be one of their #UnordinaryWomen alongside so many inspiring and truly unordinary women. At Every Mother Counts, we believe in centering women and amplifying their voices and stories. Lafayette 148 is doing just that by highlighting issues that are both urgent and relevant, and the women behind them who are driving needed change in their communities and beyond.

Tell us what it means to you to be a part of Lafayette 148’s #UnordinaryWomen campaign alongside so many incredible women?

It’s an honor to be in such company and to now be in community with these unordinary women. Each of them embodies such incredible intelligence, strength and determination, in both who they are and what they do. What thrills me most is that Lafayette 148 chose unordinary women whose names absolutely need to be known by all.

In addition to your impressive work in philanthropy, you are also a style icon for so many women. What are a few of your favorite pieces from Lafayette 148 New York?

I especially love the white blouse I was photographed in for the campaign. I have worn it many times since. I also really love the Unordinary Women t-shirt. It’s become a bit of a uniform for me and others on my team. I think wearing it helps remind us of our own power while at the same time sending an important message out into the world.

How can people get involved if they would like to help support Every Mother Counts?

Every Mother Counts website is an incredible resource for people interest in this issue and looking for ways to engage and contribute. You can check out our Get Involved page to learn about events, screenings and opportunities to learn more or you can make a donation. Right now, we’re in the midst of our Global Fitness Challenge, which launched on April 7th, World Health Day, invites individuals and organizations to commit to a personal fitness activity (e.g., running, biking, walking, hiking, yoga, etc.) and pledge to complete a goal number of minutes or miles to raise awareness and funds for maternal health.

Christy Turlington BurnsPhoto Credit: Courtesy of Lafayette 148 New York

Are you planning any fundraisers for Every Mother Counts this summer/year? Can you tell us about what you have in the works if so?

We are still in the middle of what we call “Mother’s Month” here at EMC and there are still events on our calendar that people can check out. One is called the Global Fitness Challenge, which I mentioned above and which runs through June 2nd. You can choose any activity, from running to cycling to mediation and yoga and dedicate your hours and efforts to Every Mother Counts. We will be adding more events for the summer in the coming weeks and in the fall will have much more. You can stay updated on everything we do throughout the year by subscribing to our email newsletter at the bottom of our homepage at

How will you be spending your summer?

I am still living week to week these days, as I have been pretty much since the start of the pandemic. I am looking forward to having a slightly more “normal” summer this year—spending more time, safely, with loved ones—and hopefully get to travel some now that I am vaccinated.

Your daughter appears to be following in your footsteps. What is the best professional advice you’ve ever given her? The best mom advice?

Yes, she is quite the social justice advocate and uses her platform and voice every chance she gets. I am very proud of her.

What is the secret to your success?

I don’t think there is a secret to success. I think much of it is a combination of luck, timing and constantly striving to be my best self in every moment. Some days that’s easier than others but I won’t give up trying or taking chances, even if it means making mistakes along the way.

What to you is the greatest luxury in life and why?

Health shouldn’t be a luxury but it is. I would also say time. Time to continue to learn, to process, to transition. We could all use more of that.