In The Raw

When news broke that Supermodel Carol Alt was about to launch another of her raw dieting books, “Easy Sexy Raw” I remember thinking - “oh no,  here we go, yet another diet book from a celebrity!”. I also remember thinking that Carol looked pretty fabulous  in our last encounter a couple of weeks prior to that. I was left curious by the premise of her book and the fact that this was one of many in a line of best selling books about the same subject: living a lifestyle that incorporates raw foods to improve the quality of life.

It’s only natural to pay attention when you hear a certain book is a best-seller, but after three hits in a series, you must look closely. And so I did. Carol Alt’s books are not simply diets, like the Atkins or the South Beach, they truly are a way of living that has worked for hundreds of thousands around the globe and has found in Alt their biggest supporter and spokesperson. Adept of this intriguing principle of only eating raw foods for nearly twenty years, Carol’s excitement when talking about her books and her health is not for nothing. After being sent back home by a director in the midst of shooting her TV special “Carol Alt & Friends” at the age of 34, because her body wasn’t in swimsuit condition, this Sports Illustrated supermodel, known internationally for her beauty and sculptural body was shocked. How could the star of the show have let go of herself like that?

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At that moment Carol realized that there was something horribly wrong. How was it possible that in less than ten years her body and health had deteriorated so dramatically? How was it possible that a 34 year old woman could be constantly catching colds, having headaches, stomachaches and having the most painful sinus infections? This was her opportunity to turn the tables. Carol prayed as hard as she could for enlightenment, and so it came. When talking to a friend about the recent events, Carol was given the suggestion to look for this doctor that had helped one of their other friends to treat cancer. The results came right at the first day of her new lifestyle, and from that moment on, Carol saw the need to be more vocal about it and tell the world the wonders that such a simple change had brought upon her.

The idea for the raw books were picked up by Random House “in a snap of the fingers”, like Carol likes to say, and the rest is best-selling history. The success of the books led Carol to try and brake new boundaries. After extensive research to find beauty products that did not have any chemicals in their composition, wasn’t she surprised to find that such products did not exist? And so years of research and development started with her team, to come up with the first ever beauty line that is also raw and 100% natural: “Raw Essentials by Carol Alt”.

To prove her point, the model/actress explains that “the company that did before and after tests said it is the best before and after results they have ever seen, natural, organic or otherwise. You see, we do get great results without any chemicals!”. And not only the results are phenomenal, but so is the price. “we wanted to reach out to a lot of people with a product of very high quality and very low cost. Nobody else does that, I could sell these products for 80 bucks each, but I wanted it to be accessible to everyone, not just the elite. I hardly make any profit on this, and part of it also goes into cancer research. I am healthy on my skin and on my body and I really wanted to share that with as many people as possible.”.

Ms. Alt proves being deserving of her supermodel title as she continues to work as hard and as much as she did when she first got it in the early eighties. The creation of this title however is packed with controversy. Eileen Ford, then owner of Ford Models claimed she used to call her models supermodels around the office. Janice Dickinson, a fellow supermodel, claims to have created the title to describe herself. Yet, most of the press claims that Carol Alt was the first supermodel, and she has an idea of why. 

“It was only a working title. The agency (Elite Models) started using it after I had a meeting with John (Casablancas, then owner of Elite) to explain that it was impossible to work when we were getting several calls per day from our bookers in the studio. I was really afraid the clients might get irritated and not book me again. This was a time when I was working up to three jobs a day, seven days a week without ever taking a break, it was intense! Clients had to book us with six months in advance! John then decided to create a Super Elite Division in which each of these super requested girls would have its own booker and would only get calls from that one person, keeping things more organized. This division had much bigger girls than me, like Kim Alexis or Kelly Emberg, but I suppose that since I was the first one in, the press picked up on it.”

Whether she was the first supermodel or not doesn’t seem to bother her at all, Carol is very humble about her career and speaks of her accomplishments with profound passion. Her latest given title is “legend”, bestowed upon her by her current agency, Trump Models, In New York. The newly created Legends Division, represents working models that have become huge and unforgettable, like Carmen Dell’Orefice, with a career that goes way beyond the mark of the sixty years; or Beverly Johnson, a name that will forever be remembered as the first woman of color in the cover of Vogue.

Carol Alt is a legend not only because she allegedly was the first supermodel, but because her career in the film, music, TV and literary industries have all been successful and filled with accolades. Her recognition as an actress in the United States, her home country, may not be as huge as her recognition in Europe, but the pile of awards that fill Carol’s shelves in her New York home will show you just how important she is to that world. Carol’s acting career is just as large as her modeling, her first job was on Broadway in Bob Fosse’s “Sweet Charity”, job that made her realize just how much she needed to learn the craft of acting. This was a time in which models did not become actresses and actresses did not work in TV commercials or advertising jobs, so to make a transition of that sort would require a lot of training and talent. Carol hired a coach and worked hard from the very first day. Her first movie, “Via Montenapoleone” was such a huge hit in Europe that it was later turned into a tv series. Since then Carol has worked in more than 50 films and is ready for the release of her latest project, with none other than Woody Allen. His new feature entitled “To Rome with Love”, due in the spring of 2012 worldwide takes the audience back to the good old Allen style, from films like “Manhattan” or “Everyone Says I Love You”.

Carol had hoped for a bigger and more established acting career in the United States, but by the time she was already a big star in Europe the 90’s had arrived, and with that a whole new team of supermodels, girls that had extensive amount of fame and were being offered parts in movies without even wanting to pursue a career in acting. Needless to say, these models were unprepared to deliver serious performances and by the time Carol returned to her country and hit Hollywood, the film community was fed up with models who wanted to be in movies. Carol’s talent and stardom however wasn’t diminished, she was still a supermodel.

Not one to sit on her hands, she took advantage of her position and went on to do work with several charitable organizations and more recently found the cause that lives in the core of her heart: TAMFI, the Tony Alt Memorial Foundation. “My brother passed away in 2005, and nobody knows why, he just dropped to the floor and died. His workers loved him, and that is such a testament to who my brother was, that they didn’t want his spirit to die. They started this foundation to raise money for children’s charities. Everyone in that foundation works for free, they have day jobs, so they donate their time to make sure the right organizations are getting the funds they need.” - explains the entrepreneur.

And then there is also a jewelry line launched in partnership with Sears. Yes, if this woman doesn’t deserve to be called legendary, than I have no idea who else should. The butterfly designed by Carol, is meant to symbolize transformation, because she claims to have been transformed since she started her raw living. With a green gem in the back, Carol hopes she will be able to bring healing energies to whoever purchases the items, which of course also reverts profits to charity.

And does this supermodel turned legend ever get tired? “Well, you know, sometimes I do. I do, but I try to do things that I am passionate about, I keep going because I enjoy what I am doing and from the moment I stop enjoying it I will stop it all. But you know what? I do my best, I am only trying to do my little bit, and for me it is all about health and I am trying to bring health to people.” Could the message be any clearer? I don’t think so.

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Article originally published in The Peninsula