By Ayanna Kirton, Staff Reporter
- Winston Sill Photos
SHE STILL has the fabulous figure and winning smile that no doubt set her apart from the other contestants years ago. Barefoot, in a denim halter-top dress with camel-coloured fringed sash around her waist, Cindy Breakespeare is like that cool aunt you'd always beg your parents to spend the weekend with when you were little.
Even today, at 48 years old, it isn't hard to tell why she was crowned Miss World in 1976. She exudes confidence, but doesn't seem conceited and is stylish, but not in an overt I-need-to-wear-everything-that-the-kids-wear-even-though-I'm 50 kind of way.
"The truth is not every look is right for everyone and I think as you grow older you must eliminate certain things."
"You know the expression 'madda young gyal'? Definitely not cute. You can be sexy, appealing and sensual and current but you also have to know when to draw the line because you can end up looking ridiculous."
Sitting on a green wooden loveseat made comfy by large embroidered cushions, Breakespeare's condominium nestled in the hills of St. Andrew is warm and inviting. She has decorated her place with charming furniture and bold paintings as well as framed photos of her children. Every little accent or sculpted piece, probably picked up during her many travels, seems to have some rich history behind it.
It's obvious that the inhabitants of this space are either artistic or have an eye for eclectic decorative pieces. The wall's faux finish is the handiwork of the lady of house, a fitting way of displaying the fruits of her current vocation. Many may remember her creations from Ital Craft, the accessory line that is still in operation but is now run by her former partner and marketed primarily on the north coast because of its tourist appeal.
"I'm now in the business of interiors. We've done several homes and offices but our main client is Guardsman. (We're currently) refurbishing the gym at Hilton."
"I love working with my hands," she adds, "I'm not afraid to get them dirty. For me, (weekly) manicures are a waste of time."
Besides interior design, she loves music. A passion that both she and her husband Rupert Bent, who can be heard playing congo drum tracks in the next room, share. This year she plans to "find the time to do a bit more recording" and has done several shows in hotels around the island in the past year.
"I love to sing old songs," she says.
But that doesn't preclude her interest in all types of music, including her oldest son Damian's. "When I heard his album I couldn't believe how much he had grown. I am extremely proud of the album's content and nothing he does musically embarrasses me."
BREAKSPEARE ON BEAUTY
These days Breakspeare's trademark shoulder-length curls are gone. She now sports a closely cropped cut which is equally if not more flattering than her previous look. Her decision to chop it all off was easy, she notes.
"My hair was dead so I buried it! As you get older your hair gets thin and loses its shine...one day I was looking at myself in the mirror and I thought that I had to do something about it. I didn't tell anyone...I didn't want anyone to talk me out of it, only my daughter knew. She came with me to hold my hand."
Breakspeare reveals that she kept her hair long all her life because it acted as a security blanket of sorts. She says she was stuck in the mentality that she had to perpetuate the whole beauty queen image with long flowing tresses so irresistible to most men. She adds that she had to make this change for herself.
The same notion extends itself to her thoughts on having cosmetic surgery in the future. Breakespeare says she has no aversion to going under the knife if need be, but emphasises that "like everything else you have to strike a happy medium. You don't want to go so much to the extreme that you look stretched and unrecognisable...anything in moderation. It's already been said that I have had (work) done. There were rumours about chin lifts and tummy tucks.
"If only...I wouldn't be sweating at the gym that's for sure," she says laughing.
Breakespeare remains thankful for every opportunity that her celebrity status has brought her way, despite the tremendous public scrutiny. While she admits that she is not always in the mood to face a camera, she notes that there is little pressure from onlookers to always play the part.
"You have to be real. You can't get caught up in your own hype...If you feel that there is a day when you can't be seen as just a normal person then you're putting the pressure on yourself."
Being under the microscope is "not necessarily a bad thing" but she does admit to feeling pressured at times.
"You set certain standards that you have to live up to and no one wants to hear, 'she used to look good but she get fat now'."
"Then there's the other side of the coin where I think I have had a very unique and diverse life in Jamaica. Certainly socially, I've been able to cross social barriers in both directions and have received a lot of love and support, for that I am really grateful. Inasmuch as people may think it is a tremendous burden it is also a privilege to be a celebrity."
With her son Damian Marley winning last year's Grammy award for best reggae album, and her younger son Christian Tavares-Finson excelling in track and field, the mother of three (two boys, Damian, 24 and Christian, 20, and a girl, Leah, 16) says she shares a special relationship with all her children. All now live outside Breakespeare's home.
"But they're big now," she says pensively, almost as if she needs to remind herself of that reality.
"They're out there seeing what the world has to offer. But there is no greater moment than when the three of them are under my roof, at home with me. Seeing them relating and reacting to each other, there's nothing else that makes me happier."
Breakspeare breaks it down
FL: Describe your 'look'.
CB: Whatever is in at the time, but modified to suit me. I think that's the key to being well dressed. You have to know what your figure flaws are. If you have chubby thighs and knock-knees, don't wear the mini skirt. Accentuate your assets. If you are full around the waist but have great legs you can wear a mini skirt but pair it with a tailored jacket. People always say I look great in everything but that's not true I don't wear everything I wear what suits me and I think that's key.
FL: Favourite trend?
CB: When tights and bustiers were 'in' I wore them to death, but my most favourite and most enduring look over the years is the peasant style. I love a long full skirt and an off the shoulder blouse. It's feminine and comfortable, you can dress it up or down. (With this look) you can play up a narrow waistline and broad shoulders."
FL: What's your biggest beauty challenge?
CB: Generally keeping my figure is a challenge, keeping my weight down is difficult. I have a healthy appetite, I love to eat. I'll wake up one day and I'll feel for Lebanese food and the next day it'll be Indian...or Italian. I think taste is one of the greatest senses. It's right up there with touch or sight or hearing.
FL: Are you a health nut or do you enjoy a few 'guilty pleasures' once in a while?
CB: I'll have the occasional glass of wine and cigarette. Living good living healthy is wonderful and I do believe in doing it. But I have realised as the years roll along that there are no guarantees. No matter how well you try take care of yourself sometimes there is just a different plan for you and you may not make it to a (ripe old age).
If too much personal sacrifice is making you miserable after a while your life can become a terrible chore. It may be just as damaging as one drink or a cigarette. Balance and moderation are important.
FL: If you could change anything about your appearance what would it be?
CB: At one point I may have said something different. (Now) I've reached to the stage in life where I understand and appreciate that everyone of us gets what we get and we have to try and make the best of it. I have been very fortunate and I enjoy terrific health so I have to thank God for that.
My greatest goal is to have a happy productive day, to make the most of the day. Each day my goal is to do something that makes me feel proud of myself.
Exercise. I love working up a sweat.
I don't go crazy for designer clothes because they do not guarantee that you'll look great. My clothes must fit properly. I really love skirts and bold (chunky) jewellery.
Someone who can put up with me. Fitness (being athletic) is important. I'm also a very definite person I don't plan to change. Although I remarried I still kept my maiden name. Some men can't deal with that.
Do unto others, as you'd have them do unto you. You cannot have peace of mind until how you live and what you say you believe in become one.
Fashion is one of the greatest things about womanhood. You have the opportunity to experiment with it and it should be enjoyed if you choose to do so. (It is also) a 20-year cycle. The pants may be a bit tighter, the skirts a bit shorter, or they may add something here and there but it goes right back to where it started.