Supermod of supermods Carolyn Murphy fronts the May cover of Town & Country. Inside, the 41-year-old strips down to almost nothing (a Chanel swimsuit here, an Etro bra there) and looks seemingly ageless—did we mention it’s the “Youth and Beauty” issue? In the interview, she talks fighting cliché beauty standards and how beauty goes beyond simply playing a role.
“When I asked the model…how she defined American beauty, she was quick to mention her own upbringing, in Florida’s panhandle, and her father’s farm in Virginia,” Kate Betts writes in the cover story. “She admired her grandmother because she went to work. And her own career started while she was riding around in her brother’s Plymouth Duster, wearing glasses and braces. Against Murphy’s wishes, her mother put her in an eight-week finishing school. Post-graduation, she flew to Paris, lived in her agent’s townhouse, and got the cover of French Vogue, in a Mario Testino shoot inspired by Romy Schneider. Before long she was posing for Prada and signing cosmetics contracts with Estée Lauder. By the mid-1990s she was everywhere: a wide-eyed blond pixie in a Prada campaign, a cool Lauren Bacall–type sophisticate in the Estée Lauder Re-Nutriv campaign, a denim-clad all-American outdoorsy surfer in numerous Bruce Weber fashion editorials. She can play every part.”
Murphy tells Betts, “I’ve been cast as every blond icon, you name it: Grace Kelly, Romy Schneider, but what’s interesting to me now is what lies behind the façade of the photo—this idea of being American, and what that means, how that defines you.”
“So often the American woman has been typified by a standard of outward beauty: blond hair, blue eyes, healthy build,” she continues. “I see the evolution of the real American woman as being more about her spirit. She can roll up her sleeves and get dirty. She can do it all—she is classy and she is casual. Neither holds more importance than the other, and the beauty is in her effortlessness.”
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