Brooke Shields on Recovering from Broken Femur: 'Every Day I Feel Like I'm Having to Begin Again'
Despite her injury, the actress, who is partnering with Colgate on its new Renewal toothpaste, is determined to stay positive — and smiling — on her road to recovery
Brooke Shields has a long road ahead to regain her ability to walk again after breaking her right femur, but she's not letting her injury get her down. The actress and model is continuing to work (she just announced a major new beauty campaign) and is focused on staying positive throughout her recovery.
"I fell off a balance board," Shields, 55, tells PEOPLE when we caught up with the star about her new partnership with Colgate. "Honestly, every day I feel like I'm having to begin again. Rehab is always slow and it's one day at a time and you just take what you can control and go, 'Okay, I'm going to be happy with that as my progress for right now.'"
As she started recovering from the injury, Shields shared an Instagram video of herself on crutches in a hospital while practicing to walk again.
Whatever work lies ahead in rehab, she's determined to keep a positive outlook and remind herself that thinking negatively is "not going to help" at all. "If you ask yourself to come up with reasons why things are bad, you'll come up with pages and pages. But if you just ask yourself to think about the positives, whatever they are, it could always be worse. People are struggling everywhere. I have day-to-day things that I can do in my realm of control, in every area of my life. That's what I'm going to focus on."
And part of her focus is very much still zeroed in on work. PEOPLE caught up with Shields to talk about the launch her new campaign with Colgate — her third since she partnered with the brand at 9 years old! — as the face of its new Renewal toothpaste, developed by gum care experts to target and repair early gum issues.
"I was really just shocked to find out that I did not know that [gum health] was an issue," Shields says. "I assumed that gum health just meant keeping your teeth clean and flossing. But I had no idea that I would need a product that would help not just target, but reverse any early gum damage that I was not aware of."
Being in the spotlight from a young age, she says she's taken "really good care" of her teeth her whole life, but has completely rethought her oral care routine now. "I was really not as aware, as I am now, and that I want people to be, that gum issues happen gradually. And we often have no idea. And this Colgate Renewal product really does target the health of your gums."
Her secret for keeping a healthy smile over the years has been a really easy one — following a regimen. "It's important to keep everything a natural part of your routine," she says. "I think that that's important for people, and kids, to learn that it's not a chore, it's really more of a privilege to be able to take care of yourself. And we owe it to ourselves to be able to pay attention and be proactive for the future."
So what has kept the superstar smiling throughout a rather tough year? She has a quick response — her family.
"It's a little silly, but just being with my children and my husband in such an uninterrupted period of time in this last year," she says about husband Chris Henchy, 56, and their daughters Rowan, 17, and Grier, 14. "They're ruthless to me. They make fun of me constantly, but it is not done in a mean spirited way, obviously. But I am by nature, more dorky than maybe people might think I would be. And [my family] will all look at me and just make such fun of me."
She continues, "And then I'll look at myself, I'll be like, 'Oh my God, I can't believe I just did that. You're right, you're right.' And it gets me out of being so serious about everything. And the levity has been great during COVID-19. My family, we laugh a lot. My husband is very funny and it has been like medicine."
"The fact that I got a fat lip was just par for the course," she says with a laugh. "I didn't think it was horrible, [Rowan] didn't get in trouble or anything because it made me laugh. I honestly, my ego was so happy that she wanted to do something that other people were doing on TikTok, even if it was at my expense, but it made me feel good."
After, Rowan set up Shields with her own account, but she "completely abandoned me," says the actress. "I haven't done anything on TikTok because she's not controlling it. And I don't want to look like one of those moms that's, all of the sudden, I'm doing dances in my living room. It doesn't come very naturally to me, but if I'm the subject of something or they ask me to do it, I'm the first one to say yes."
Instead, she'll stick to Instagram — which is full of candid snaps that show the glitz and the not-so-glamorous sides of life.
"I have been in this industry for decades and there's been so much access to absolutely every part of my existence that it's actually nice and refreshing to have a platform that can be purely dictated by me," she explains. "And I've always believed in transparency. And I've always believed in just being honest about my struggles about everything, the highs, the lows. If I can help anybody in any way or just promote honesty then I have used the platform in a way that I feel proud."
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