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Cindy Crawford, ELLE Canada

Courtesy Elle Canada

Cindy Crawford is speaking out about that photo.

This past February, an unflattering pic of the 49-year-old supermodel wearing lingerie in a Marie Claire photo shoot was posted online. The magazine initially announced the pic was "unretouched," "real" and "gorgeous" and later said that the photographer who took it said the image was "stolen or otherwise unlawfully accessed" and that it "is a fraudulent, altered version" of his photo.

"I felt blindsided," Crawford told Elle Canada in an interview posted Tuesday. "I know my body, and I know it's not perfect, but maybe I have a false body image; maybe I think I look better than I do. I think that most women are hard on themselves. We think we look worse than we do. So I assumed I fell into that category, even though that picture didn't reflect what I saw when I looked in the mirror—even in the worst dressing-room lighting."

 Crawford graces the cover of Elle Canada's October 2015 issue, wearing a navy square neck dress with thigh high slits. She also appears in a black Philipp Plein cut-out gown in another pic.

Cindy Crawford, ELLE Canada

Courtesy Elle Canada

Cindy Crawford, ELLE Canada

Courtesy Elle Canada

The supermodel and husband Rande Gerber, 53, are parents to son Presley, 16, and daughter Kaia, who turns 14 Thursday. In her interview with Elle Canada, she talked about the kids' reactions to the Marie Claire photo.

"This is exactly the type of thing that I wouldn't want my daughter to do to another girl online," she said. "It's social bullying. I'm a big girl and I can handle it, but I used it as a teaching lesson for my own daughter because my kids were like 'Mom, you don't look like that!'"

"They wanted me to go down to the beach in a swimsuit so the paparazzi would take a photo of me, but that would be playing into it," the supermodel told Elle Canada. "How do I rise above the situation? What do I do? Go on Good Morning America and pull up my shirt and say, 'I don't look like that'? That didn't seem like the right response."

Cindy Crawford, Kaia Gerber, Presley Gerber

Anthony Kwan/Getty Images for Omega

 

After the photo was posted online, on Valentine's Day, Gerber posted on his Instagram page a sexy bikini pic of Crawford.

She got flowers and I got her. Happy Valentines Day @cindycrawford

A photo posted by Rande Gerber (@randegerber) on

Before the photographer denied the pic's authenticity, scores of women and members of the press praised the supermodel over it. 

"It was stolen and it was malicious, but there was so much positive reaction," Crawford told Elle Canada. "Sometimes, the images that women see in magazines make them feel inferior—even though the intention is never to make anyone feel less. So somehow seeing a picture of me was like seeing a chink in the armor."

"I couldn't come out against it because I'm rejecting all these people who felt good about it, but I also didn't embrace it because it wasn't real—and even if it were real, I wouldn't have wanted it out there," she said. "I felt really manipulated and conflicted, so I kept my mouth shut."