carol alt model 40

Henry S. Dziekan III, Getty Images

Fifty-year-old supermodel Carol Alt just got exactly what she expected: Her age begins this story.

"Google me," Alt says. "One of the first things you'll read about me is my age. Always."

Not that the former Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition cover girl is trying to hide the fact she has hit the big five-o.

Alt was happy to step out March 7 in support of Wihelmina Models 40-plus Model Search. The contest, which is holding open casting calls across the country, could launch one lucky lady's middle-age modeling career.

Alt took a few minutes during a launch event at New York City's Macy's at Herald Square to chat about being a woman of a certain age.

StyleList: What opportunities are out there for a model in her 40s? Can she really have the kind of career you've had at this phase in her life?
Carol Alt:
There's work, but what's really missing is magazines. Except for More magazine, I can't think of any publication that regularly features or celebrates women in their 40s. Do you think a magazine like Vogue or American Harper's Bazaar (Alt did her first cover for that mag at 20) realizes most of the women who flip through its pages are women in their 40s, not the 18-year-olds they put on the cover. I find that strange. It's not relatable. I'm looking forward to the day when Vogue decides its covers should be of women in their 40s.

StyleList: Why do you think older women don't get their due?
C.A.:
I think we're fixated on age in a strange way. Take me. I'm 50 now and every time you read about me, my age is one of the first things that gets mentioned. It's "she looks great for her age." There are so many beautiful women in this room right now. How come it isn't just "she looks great." Why do we attach the "for her age" part?

StyleList: You don't see too many women in this demographic on the runway either. Why not?
C.A.:
It's kind of an industry-wide problem. If the designers have size-0 samples, all they can book is size-0 models. Realistically, they tend to be young girls. It kind of needs to change starting with the sample sizes and go from there.

StyleList: I'm not going to say "you look good for your age," but you do look amazing. What's your secret?
C.A.:
I only eat raw food. It's that simple. Cooked food is really bad for you, and it's getting worse. You can't imagine the amount of food we eat that is irradiated and just bad for you. It's a cleaner way to eat and it keeps me looking young. Before I started eating this way, I was always fighting my weight and miserable.

StyleList: So no meat?
C.A.:
Actually I eat tartare. I eat carpaccio. They are delicious. Just not cooked.

The Wihelmina contest will be judged by a panel that includes the competition's style adviser, Randall Christensen, Emmy-winning costume designer for ABC's "Dancing With the Stars." A winner will be announced this summer.

Speaking of mature Vogue cover girls, read about the 37-year-old actress who got the honors in July 2010.

And check out these stars who get better with age.