05/03/1993 at 01:00 AM EDT
Tired of having the camera all to herself, model Rachel Hunter added to the picture. Daughter Renee was born last June to Rachel and rocker Rod Stewart, 48, who wed Hunter in 1990 after proposing over tuna sandwiches in a state park. "Being a mom really puts a glint in your eye," says Hunter, 23. "Photographers tell me there is a difference in the way I look in the camera. I'm more mellow now." She wasn't exactly high-strung to begin with. The New Zealander's teenage career ambition: beach bum. Destiny cut into her tanning time when an aunt persuaded her at 17 to try modeling. Having proved unsuited to soda fountain waitressing—"I'd eat all the bubble gum in the bubble-gum ice cream"—Hunter made the agency rounds. Quicker than a strobe light, she was in Vogue and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's swimsuit issue. "You have to kiss your teenage years goodbye," she says. "I would never look back and say I missed out on anything, but it was hard being away from my family."
Hunter didn't waste much time starting one of her own. After she and Stewart met in L.A., they conducted a dizzying four-month courtship. "It came about very, very fast," she laughs. "As we all know, Rod was not the marrying type." Now they rock and roll the cradle at homes in Beverly Hills and Epping, England. "Rod is the one who asked me when I wanted to start having kids," Rachel says. "He's fabulous about it." After giving birth, Hunter sprang back to her former size 10 (thanks in part to Body by VH-1, a cable aerobics show she hosts). Reflecting on her new maturity, she says, "I don't think women really grow into themselves until they're in their 30s." Then imagine what we have to look forward to.