One of the world’s top models doesn’t think her career skyrocketed because of her appearance.
“My career was never based on pretty,” Gisele Bundchen recently told The New York Times.
“Even before I got into the business, I was used to being bullied because I was always tall and skinny and stuck out,” she said. “I got really red all the time from playing volleyball, red like a pepper. So I thought bullying was just the way life is.”
Bundchen also recently told People that she was rejected 42 times before she got her big break, and that she was told her nose would prohibit her from being on the cover of magazines — something that might seem jarring to people today.
She reiterated that same legend to the Times:
“In the beginning, you know, everyone told me, ‘Your eyes are too small, the nose is too big, you can never be on a magazine cover,'” she said to The Times. “But, you know what? The big nose is coming with a big personality.”
Others confirm that amid her nose, her personality is what made her a star.
“Some people on the sitting were saying, “Oh, she’s not too pretty, she has a big nose” photographer Patrick Demarchelier said to The Times about Bundchen when she was young. “But I said, ‘No, no, I like her.’ She was smart and outgoing, always happy, and clearly already knew what she was doing.”
Forbes has estimated that between June 2014 and 2015, Bundchen earned about $44 million, making her the world’s highest-paid model. She’s strutted the runway for many major companies — both consumer-facing and high-fashion — before her retirement from the runway last year. She became particularly famous for her gig as a Victoria’s Secret Angel. She’s currently helping Under Armour’s women’s business soar.
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