The conversation with my friend went something like this:
Me: Have you seen the Taylor Swift Bad Blood video?
Friend: (Disdainful sigh) No.
Me: OMG! Trust me on this. You have to see it. It’s amazing.
Friend: No. No, I don’t. Nope, you are wrong.
A few things to know about my friend: She is kind and generous and supportive of (almost) all of my craziness and pop culture obsessions. She also has an encyclopedic knowledge of music and bands from around the world. Every December she posts a list of her favorite songs from the prior year and I generally have only heard of (maybe) one of them and only know how to pronounce (maybe) half of the list. She is also strong, smart, and super kick-ass in almost everything she does.
This is all to say that she doesn’t shoot me down very often, especially when it comes to pop songs. She indulges my ridiculousness in the way that only a true friend will but which makes her Swift rejection all the more frustrating, even if it isn’t unique. I haven’t been able to get any of my friends to watch Bad Blood, much less let me explain to them why they should.
Two words: Cindy Crawford.
Crawford was a force of nature in the 1990s. Remember the first time you saw the George Michael Freedom 90! video? She and her fellow supermodels—who are all still around and still looking fierce—virtually stepped from that iconic Herb Ritts photo into MTV. Like Lauren Bacall, Lena Horne, and Sophia Loren before her, Crawford possessed, of course, a not-of-this-earth beauty, but it was grounded in wisdom and strength. Her origin story (all good super heroes have them) is one of legend: brainiac decides against career in chemical engineering to become the highest paid supermodel in a world that only just learned what the term supermodel even means.
For young women of the 90s, Crawford was also another kind of model. She was a role model to those of us struggling to find our identity and embrace our own uniqueness. Much was made of her mole (today it would have its own Twitter account), the imperfection that wasn’t. Compared to Christie Brinkley and Farrah Fawcett, she was so much more normal-seeming, even if that kind of normal really wasn’t at all. She seemed like a girl you could find working at the food court at the mall or sitting next to you in English class. She never bothered to play dumb or ever pretended that she wasn’t beautiful. She worked it all—her career, her fame—like the boss she was. Since then she has continued to demonstrate poise, grace, and independence, even when selling sofas or skin cream.
Her daughter Kaia has decided to step in front of the camera. Crawford told Yahoo! Celebrity it was important for her daughter to, “Be on time, be prepared, listen. For me, that’s so much of the reason I’ve had such a long career. People knew I was going to show up and give 100 percent. It’s not glamorous, but that quality, in a fickle industry, was essential.”
I was never going to look like Crawford, or Bacall or Horne or Loren, for that matter, but I could stand on my own two feet and own my life. I could show up, work hard, and be smart about it. I could get married and have kids and have a career or all of the above. Or I could do none of the above. In the post-ERA era after Gloria Steinem and Helen Gurley-Brown, Crawford was an unlikely icon in the most unlikely of professions.
Next year Cindy Crawford will turn 50. Taylor Swift is 25. I love the fact that Swift cast Crawford as the “Headmistress” to her kick-ass all-girl gang in Bad Blood. It feels important, even if that ‘important’ is only with a lower-case ‘i.’ Women and girls could do worse than learn a thing or two from Crawford.
Now if I could just get someone to watch it with me.