Cheryl Tiegs on True Beauty

By Paulette Cohn

Photo courtesy ©PHOTOGRAPHER/ABC

The famous supermodel reveals all about her parenting philosophy and brand new TV show!

Supermodel Cheryl Tiegs is looking for a "True Beauty" on the new ABC reality series from executive producers Ashton Kutcher and Tyra Banks. "True Beauty," airing Mondays at 10 p.m., is an unscripted show that combines elements of Banks' "America's Next Top Model" with Kutcher's "Punk'd."

All of the contestants believe that they are competing to see who is the most physically attractive -- and it isn't until they are voted off that they learn the truth: Kutcher has set up the hidden cameras for which he is famous to capture their behavior and they are being expelled from the show because of an unappealing attitude.

When Tiegs heard that the series was more about being kind to others than physical good looks, she picked up the phone and asked to be a part of it.

"I said, 'This is so important to get this message out to the American people.' I have seen perfectly featured girls come [into the modeling world] and they just disappear because there is nothing going on inside. I firmly believe it is 50/50, inner beauty-outer beauty. You cannot discount inner beauty," Tiegs tells

That said, she shares that one of the reasons she felt the time was right to make her reality TV debut was because her 17-year-old son Zachary, with ex-husband Tony Peck, was attending school in Switzerland. True, Zachary is old enough that he doesn't need his mother's full attention any more, but there was a time when Tiegs put her career on hold to focus on his needs.

"I never had a nanny, so I did give up a lot of things [to raise him,]" the Minnesota-born 61-year-old continues. "He took up most of my time. There were a lot of things I said no to. But that was okay. It was what I wanted to do."

One reason that Tiegs was willing to put her career on the back burner was her belief that mothers are one of the biggest influences in a child's life: sometimes positive; sometimes not.

"As children growing up, we all think, 'I wish my mother hadn't done that," she says. 'So you can also learn from that and not do it to your child."

Tiegs, who debuted on the cover of Teen magazine in 1966 at age 18, recalls that back when she was pregnant with Zachary, people talked to her all the time about quality time, but what they forgot to mention was that in order to get quality time, you have to spend a large quantity of time.

"When they are young, you can't let them out of your sight," she recalls. "You can't even let them wander into another room without watching them. It is all so time consuming, which then gives you quality time. You can't say, 'I am going to have quality time between 3 and 3:30.' Quality time just happens throughout the day in your time with them."
In hindsight, Tiegs has no regrets. She says that being a judge on "True Beauty" makes her want to be a better person. She feels that having her son had the same effect.

"You see the sweetness, goodness and honesty in children and how innocent and vulnerable they are. I think [raising my son] is the most grounding thing I have ever done," she says.

But she was also a strict mother, who did some serious grounding of her own when the occasion called for it. She structured her son's life with an age-appropriate bed time, no television during the week, no IM-ing. He was also restricted to only a half-hour an evening to catch up with his friends by phone. And, as a result, Tiegs says her son never watched that much TV, because on the weekend, he would have other more interesting things to do.

"I like boundaries. I feel comfortable with boundaries," she admits. "But within those boundaries, we would step outside the box and have a great time doing something quirky and fun."