Sag Harbor supermodel Christie Brinkley on Wednesday made a plea for the public to show restraint when criticizing the children of celebrities.
“The one thing that’s hard growing up in the public eye is when you happen to catch [body-image] criticism at about 9 years old for a girl,” Brinkley, 63, said on “Today” alongside her two daughters, singer Alexa Ray Joel, 31, and model and college student Sailor Brinkley Cook, 18. “That’s the age where they’re sort of separating from their parents, [and] gaining their own identity, and to suddenly see a newspaper that calls you a name, that puts you down. . . .”
“I went through that,” Joel interjected with a rueful chuckle. “Not to rehash too much and I don’t want any pity — I have a great life and I’m very privileged to be where I am — but, no, I certainly went through it. In a different way than Sailor,” she noted. “I didn’t have so much issue with my body, but they did used to, like, call me ‘bowwow face,’ ” she said, chuckling again. “So I went through it. I grew into myself later in life.”
“I think growing up . . . you deal with body-image issues and you deal with seeing people on billboards that have these tiny bodies and just these perfect airbrushed figures,” Cook said. “And you look at yourself and you’re growing up and you go through . . . awkward phases and you don’t feel good enough and I definitely didn’t . . . I went through like every phase, I went from too skinny, too fat — I don’t like using those words — I went through everything. And then you just sort of get to an age and you get to a time where you say, ‘This is my body. I go to school, I work out every day, I can [only] do so much. Who cares if I don’t look a certain way that people tell me to look?’ ”
“I have to tell you, it was excruciating,” Brinkley said. “As a mom, I could cry [even] now,” she went on, her voice breaking. “If I could urge just one thing for the media, it’s to lay off the kids. We’re celebrities, we’re fair game, say what you want. But lay off the kids. Let them have their moment to grow up and become who they’re going to be and when they decide to step out, then they’re fair game.”
The three women were promoting their joint appearance in the new Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.